UDIA NSW | DPIE Updates on COVID-19

COVID-19 is putting increasing pressure on industries around the world. The development sector is no different: uncertainty from declining sales, disrupted supply chains and delayed project launches. With unemployment rising across the state, UDIA NSW expects further challenges for the industry as potential buyers begin to think about income security.

Both the Premier and NSW Government have emphasised that construction and planning activities are currently essential services to continue. This will help support continued project delivery, even as sales will be increasingly challenging. The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) are holding weekly meetings with peak industry bodies to ensure critical policy outcomes are delivered in line with industry needs

UDIA NSW CEO, Steve Mann met with Marcus Ray Group Deputy Secretary, Planning and Assessment, DPIE this morning who chaired a new weekly Peak Bodies meeting – Planning System COVID-19 Response (see summary notes attached) about the government’s response to COVID-19, so far:

  • DPIE has advised Council to continue all planning activities as essential services and is meeting with Council’s General Managers to reinforce this message.
  • The COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill passed Parliament yesterday has clarified that physical presence is not required for planning exhibitions.
  • The Bill has given the Minister for Local Government the power to defer Local Government elections. Minister Shelley Hancock has indicated she intends to defer Local Government Elections until at least September 2021.
  • The Legislation also gave the Planning Minister power to make an order authorising development to be carried out on land without the need for any planning approval under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 if the Minister is reasonably satisfied that the making of the order is necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of members of the public following consultation with the Health Minister.

UDIA has continued to raise the need for accelerated approvals and certainty, and we are in ongoing discussions with government officials at all levels.

It is essential that we use this period to position ourselves for an economic recovery following this health crisis. UDIA NSW is collating examples of projects from our request for information to present stimulus to government as part of the project Bounce-Back Stimulus Action Plan that we will be launching to members this week.

We are continuing with our strong message that Planning Reform is Economic Reform. While, we will still be seeking strong reform outcomes. The first focus must be on using this period to set up NSW for success with a concerted focus on:

  • Minimise uncertainty by extending the Section 7.11 cap on developer contributions while investing in local infrastructure.
  • Accelerate development approvals and rezoning, using private sector resources and step-in powers to get assessment moving.
  • Invest in catalytic infrastructure projects that will deliver housing supply, as identified in UDIA’s Building Blocks Reports and to put in place an Urban Development Program to complete the missing piece of trunk infrastructure.

While, there will be inevitable impacts in the immediate term, the right actions now will ensure NSW can take advantage of a housing-led economic recovery.

UDIA has been focussing its advocacy on ensuring that we take these urgent actions, click here to read my article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on how recapping section 7.11 is the Government’s easy answer to jobs.

UDIA NSW Council and Secretariat will be reviewing further mechanisms to stimulate market recovery and will provide members with further updates as information comes to hand.

We are currently conducting an ongoing survey about the impacts of COVID-19 on members, and ask members to complete the survey linked here.