New South Wales will fast-track the planning process for development applications in a bid to keep the construction sector ticking, as it maintains a pipeline of work through the Covid-19 crisis.
The state also announced plans to invest $70 million to co-fund “essential” infrastructure towards roads, drainage and public parks to support the construction of new houses in Sydney's north west.
The funding, announced Friday, for infrastructure in Blacktown and The Hills area will go towards 31,000 homes to be built across the next five years, planning minister Rob Stokes said.
Assessments of state significant developments, rezoning and development applications will be fast-tracked under the New South Wales changes, announced Friday.
Dubbed the “planning system acceleration program”, Stokes said details of additional reforms would be released in the coming weeks.
Friday's announcement follows the recent decision to allow construction sites across the state to operate on weekends and public holidays, with City of Melbourne announcing similar measures to its city construction sites last week.
Planning system acceleration program
“The planning system will undergo further reform to ensure it enables economic growth once the Covid-19 crisis is over,” Stokes said.
The state will support councils and planning panels to fast-track local and regionally significant development applications, introduce a ‘one stop shop’ to progress projects still in the system, and clear the current backlog of cases still in the Land and Environment Court.
State significant developments include hospitals, schools, waste management, energy generating facilities and correctional facilities.
The construction sector has faced mounting pressure during the covid-19 outbreak, and is attempting to balance health measures such as social distancing and staggered shifts to keep development projects in operation.
The construction and development sectors make up almost 10 per cent of the state’s economy, which it says employs one in four people in the state.
“The construction and development sectors will be vital supporting the State’s economic recovery,” Stokes said.
“This will pass and when it does, the planning system will be ready to continue driving economic productivity across the State.
“Our economic recovery will in many ways be longer and harder than the health one and it’s essential we do everything we can now to keep our State moving forward and allow work to continue wherever possible in line with the best medical advice.”
The state government says the planning system acceleration program will create opportunities for more than 30,000 construction jobs in the next six months.
Australia’s first coronavirus case on a construction site was confirmed at a Parkville site in Melbourne last week, and was followed by another confirmed case at the $2.8 billion Melbourne Square development CBD project.