Eurobodalla Shire Council has said goodbye to a group of good Samaritans, who have been speeding up processing of development applications from bushfire-affected residents.
After the fires, four employees from Inner West Council – Cameron Gray, Conor Wilson, Asher Richardson and Ellen Shannon - temporarily joined Eurobodalla’s team of seven development assessors to help process existing applications and fast track new ones.
The extra hands, paid for by their own council, were joined by Bob Steedman from Canterbury Bankstown Council in March, and helped process 83 DAs in that month alone.
Manager of development services Gary Bruce said the generous contribution from both Sydney councils had made all the difference.
“I had staff directly affected by the fires too, so having this team arrive was like having the cavalry turn up,” Mr Bruce said. “It not only helped the community by getting through the assessment work quickly, the generosity also provided a big morale boost for my team.
Mr Bruce said there were also some unexpected benefits for the teams themselves.
“The planners from Sydney are used to dealing with urban issues, so they did a crash course on bushfire assessment before they came down,” he said.
“Since being here, they have gained a better understanding of ecological issues and bushfire-related matters facing our shire. Our team has learnt a lot from them about issues in urban areas.
“It’s just a shame it’s taken a disaster to have this sort of exchange of information and ideas.”
Mr Bruce said a steady stream of development applications and enquiries were coming in now for bushfire rebuilds.
“We’ve set up an internal team to fast track these enquiries and applications,” he said.
“53 bushfire rebuild applications have been lodged to date, with 27 approved already in an average turnaround time of 15 days. Approvals include 14 outbuildings, seven houses, three commercial buildings, and three alterations.
“In some cases Council has been able to facilitate a rebuild without the need for a DA, and simply issue a construction certificate. So far 23 have been issued by Council or private certifiers, indicating strong intent to commence rebuilding.”
Mr Bruce said enquiries are still going strong, with 95 development applications lodged last month – 25 more than the April five-year average.
For those rebuilding after the fires, the NSW Government has waived a number of fees associated with DAs, and Council is providing bushfire attack level certificates free of charge.
For rebuilding assistance or advice about any new development, contact Council’s development helpdesk on 4474 1231 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Above: Eurobodalla Council development assessment coordinator David Meagher with Cameron Gray, from Inner West Council.