Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Development Creep

This delightful Article is from Heckler in Sydney Morning Herald:

WHEN I was a little tacker my parents had a way of dealing with me if I overstepped the mark. If I asked for something and was told I couldn't have it, they wouldn't relent, no matter how many times I pestered them.
The answer was always the same and for the same reasons. If I kept asking I'd be told to pipe down and stop wasting their time. The lesson was you can't always have everything you want in life. We also understood rules were there so the whole family could get along without conflict. Makes sense, right? Good parenting.
It used to be that local councils controlled residential development by enforcing a set of rules that were the same for everybody. So what's happened?
Cluey residential developers have thrown away the rulebook and are pushing whatever they want through toothless local planning authorities. If you have enough money to engage a fancy architect the sky's the limit, literally. Non-compliant? Not to worry. Just pay a certain style of town planner to say black is actually white and Hey Presto Change-o! Unless there are multiple objections, it will probably sail through without proper scrutiny under delegated authority.
Here's how development creep works:
Step one: Apply for twice as much as you are entitled to, including a ''sacrificial lamb''. After council negotiates token conditions, approval is granted because they can't afford to defend refusals in the Land and Environment Court. (Many councils are struggling, having dropped a bundle in US junk bond investments.)
Step two: Wait a few months until everyone has forgotten the details, then lodge a Section 96 development modification application requesting everything previously knocked back (plus a few extras for misdirection).
Step three: Keep pestering - repeat step two until you get everything you ever wanted.
Step four: Submit the Construction Certificate and again change whatever you want as nobody knows or cares any more. Have your hired gun declare it to be ''substantially the same'' development. Your private certifier will mostly sign off whatever you want, as long as you pay their fees.
In response, council planners have developed a finely balanced game of finesse where expectations are weighed and played so each side gets just enough of their own way to think they're better off than before.
In the new world order ethics and integrity are abandoned in favour of winning at all costs. Deep pockets and aggression trump honesty and fair play. What they need is a good smack with a wooden spoon!

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