Richmond Valley Council this week invited local development professionals to a meeting at Evans Head to provide an update on Council’s ongoing pro-development activity. Tuesday’s breakfast meeting, the second in a planned series of development forums, received strong support from local builders, certifiers, real estate agents, and solicitors, who were pleased to consider the potential opportunities for their clients. A key topic for the meeting was Council’s recent relaxation of s64 fees for secondary dwellings and the opportunities this creates for property owners to establish granny flats, teenager accommodation, and possible income support through rental opportunity. Although generally limited to 60m2, these secondary dwellings are expected to meet a community need for affordable housing within existing properties. Council staff also promoted the use of the now free pre-lodgement meetings which allow prospective commercial and “mum and dad” developers to get advice from a range of Council professional officers. This process allows applications to be streamlined and helps clients see wider development opportunities.
Brody Aleckson, real estate agent for LJ Hooker Evans Head, has attended both Council-run forums and has made use of the expanded service. Mr Aleckson said attending the recent developer forum was a great way to engage with Council on an informal level and find out the reforms in regards to secondary dwellings and how this could be a benefit to home owners in the area. He said the forums showed Council’s willingness to be open and transparent in its dealings. He said Council’s free pre-lodgement meetings were also a great way to move forward with development plans. “I have been involved in a development this financial year regarding a subdivision whereby I took advantage of the free pre-lodgement meeting with Council to discuss if the development was feasible and also if Council could see any potential issues arising from the application,” Mr Aleckson said. “I was provided with minutes of the meeting and they helped me determine a pathway to overcome any issues. Development always has an element of risk involved and whilst Council can’t approve the DA on the spot, you can certainly decrease your level of risk exposure via a pre-lodgement meeting. It pays to do as much research as possible and bring that information to the meeting. In years gone by, local councils were seen as road blocks to development; this is no longer, and anyone wanting to do a development should consult with Council to see how it can help.”
Also in attendance on Tuesday was Mark Formaggin, Principal/Director PRD Nationwide Casino, who has also brought project enquiries to the Council pre-lodgement panel and was pleased with the new opportunities this approach to development would bring to the Richmond Valley. Mr Formaggin said the recent developer forum on secondary dwellings was open and informative. “The forums show the commitment of Richmond Valley Council in assisting people, especially at the early stages of a proposed development, through pre-lodgement meetings and the supply of available information,” he said.
Further details on the forums, and development opportunities, can be obtained from Council’s Casino and Evans Heads Customer Service Centres, and online at www.richmondvalley.nsw.gov.au/page/Planning__Development/Development_Newsletters/