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Prioritisation Assessment Program – Operational Guidelines

Introduction

The program prioritises the assessment and progression of development projects that will contribute significantly to the recovery of the City of Parramatta economy from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is open to applicants for all current and future development applications and planning proposals that are assessed by Council. 

The program focusses on redeploying Council assessment resources to progressing a small number of qualifying development applications and planning proposals to help bring forward projects that are ready to commence and activate the local economy with a pipeline of planning projects and create investment certainty and confidence in the local economy. It is intended that only a small amount of key projects will be included in order for the program to properly focus on prioritising key proposals. 

In doing so the program provides applicants with the opportunity for priority assessment, provision of feedback, review and determination of qualifying development applications and planning proposals.  Through the reorganisation of Council resources it provides the certainty of early assessment to an established program and regular feedback on progress, whilst ensuring that all relevant statutory and operational assessment processes continue to be followed.  

As the program is the first Council program of this type developed in NSW, its operation will be kept under close review to ensure that any adjustments need to improve its operational effectiveness are introduced.  The program will also be reviewed in full three months after it has been in operation when the opportunity will arise to adjust the selection criteria and other aspects of the program if required.

Governance

The program has been designed in liaison with Council’s Internal Ombudsman and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.  All relevant planning and other legislative requirements will continue to be met during the assessment process.  Council’s community consultation processes will also continue to be applied in the normal manner. The Internal Ombudsman will continue to provide probity and governance advice to Council on the operation of the program.

All current and future development application and planning proposal applicants can apply to be included on the program.  Applications will be assessed against the qualifying criteria set out in these guidelines.

Projects that are approved to join the program will be identified on Council’s website where regular updates will be provided on their progress.

Meeting the Qualifying Criteria

Applications to be included on the program are required to set out how the proposal concerned meets the qualifying criteria.  Applications will need to demonstrate the ability of the project to create jobs both during construction and once complete, provide investment in the local economy and community infrastructure, be aligned with Council’s strategic policies and be able to commence construction within six months if it’s a development application, or proceed to the development application phase within six months if it’s a rezoning.

Qualifying criteria for the Prioritisation Assessment Program

Applicants are encouraged to submit as much information as possible to explain how their proposals will meet the criteria.  This will include:

Jobs - analysis of calculation of jobs that will be generated.  Consideration will be given to the total direct and induced number of jobs created, the period for which jobs are created (short or longer term), the industries in which those jobs are created and the nature of those jobs.

While finalisation of rezoning proposals may not result immediately in construction-ready projects, they will enable projects to progress to a development assessment phase and consideration will be given to the potential jobs that could be created if a project was to proceed following development application assessment.

Guidance on how to calculate the number of jobs involved developed by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment here should be utilised when making an application.

Timeframe - Prioritisation will consider whether the normal planning processes to be followed can be finalised quickly and whether the project is ready to progress to construction (for development aplications) or to submission of a development application (for planning proposals) within six months.  Therefore the following information will help support consideration of an application:

  • Shovel-readiness: is sufficient information available to enable the project to be assessed and determined. For development applications, can the project be determined quickly and is the project ready to commence within the next six months?  For rezonings, does the project have investment certainty to enable it to progress to the assessment of a development application within 6 months and enable unlocking of significant construction investment?
  • Investment scale and certainty: is the capital investment value of the project above $100million? A professionally prepared estimate of the capital investment value (CIV) with a declaration of its accuracy from a quantity surveyor is required.  To what extent is funding for the project secured? This will include an understanding of capitalisation and financial capacity.
  • Key constraints: Are there key site constraints that mean it’s unlikely that a determination can be made quickly, or is there an agreed process that will enable such constraints to be resolved or suitability managed?  While these key constraints may be reasons that projects have not progressed through the planning process, Council staff will work with the applicant and any external agencies involved to resolve these matters.

Public benefit: Projects will also be assessed by their capacity to provide public benefit. Public benefit considerations will include whether, and to what degree, the project will deliver:

  • New local infrastructure such as community facilities, libraries, galleries and pools
  • Significant public spaces such as public domain, parks and open space
  • Social, affordable or key worker housing
  • Significant new local investment/consumer expenditure.

Strategic Alignment: is the proposal consistent with Council’s strategic planning framework? Does it align with Council’s Community Strategic Plan?

Applications to join the program will be evaluated by consideration of the degree to which they meet each of the selection criteria, with emphasis being placed on the scale of employment and investment they will generate and the timeliness and certainty of their delivery.  Due to the limited capacity of the program, a relative assessment will be carried out of applications to identify projects offering the highest amount of benefits and certainty of delivery if approved. 

Depending on the volume and nature of applications submitted, and limitations on the amount of resources available to Council, it is anticipated that a waiting list may be established for projects to join the program at a later date when resources become available due to the finalisation of initially selected projects.

Applications to Join the Program

Applications can be submitted for inclusion in the program at any time through the completion of the application form

The information submitted in the application should address the qualifying criteria as outlined above.  For further information please email Council at prioritisationprogram@cityofparramatta.nsw.gov.au.

The applications will be reviewed by a Selection Panel of senior council staff and determined by a senior council staff member who has not been involved in the reviewing process.  During the selection process Council staff may, at the request of the Selection Panel, contact the applicant to seek further information to clarify issues raised by the application. 

If an application to join the program is rejected, reasons will be provided to the applicant.  Applicants may respond to the rejection of an application with a request for a review.  In such circumstances the application will be reconsidered and determined by the Chief Executive Officer or his delegate. Review applications must be submitted within 30 days of the determination of the original application.

Progressing Program Projects

All program projects will be assigned a case officer who will work with the applicant to establish a project program identifying key milestones and actions required by Council staff and the applicant to meet the milestones. 

All projects that are accepted onto the program will be progressed through Council assessment processes in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and any other relevant legislative requirements.    

Applicants will be required to commit to meeting agreed performance targets in order to maintain progress of the project on the program.

Council staff will prioritise working with the applicant to identify actions to address issues that arise at any stage during the progress of the project.  In doing so staff will draw on the support of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to assist with expediting actions that are the responsibility of the Department, and addressing matters such as securing State agency referrals and issues raised by them.

Reports on the progress of program projects will be regularly reviewed by the Selection Panel which may issue advice to the applicant on actions required to maintain the progress of a project. 

If an applicant does not demonstrate a commitment to work constructively with Council staff to progress a project in accordance with the agreed project program, the project may be removed from the program.