Shoalhaven councillor: DA backlog will only get worse

Shoalhaven councillor Patricia White. Picture: Robert Crawford
Shoalhaven councillor Patricia White. Picture: Robert Crawford

Shoalhaven City Councillors have been inundated with complaints from residents in limbo, as they wait on council to approve building and renovation plans.

Council has been dealing with more development applications than any regional council in NSW, and while residents wait up to 12 months for approval, affected by council’s development application backlog, many have lost their patience.

Councillor Patricia White, who oversees the development committee, understands their frustration.

“A day wouldn’t go by where I don’t have three, four or five phone calls from residents trying to get DAs through," she said.

“It’s a big problem, they all have holding costs, we need to get it done quicker.

“We have some really good major projects on the books, we don’t want these people walking away from the Shoalhaven.

“It affects employment, it stops the employment of young people, while builders wait for jobs to come through they might hesitate in taking on an apprentice.”

Cr White said if the issue is not addressed soon, it will only snowball.

“We’re going to be opening new housing areas soon, we’ll be getting more DAs,” she said.

She believes council has tried in vain to recruit more planning staff.

However consulting firms have offered more lucrative salaries to candidates, and lured council-trained staff to the private sector.

“It’s not that council won't employ people, it’s just that we have more people going than coming in,” Cr White said.

“We have to pay award rates, private businesses can offer what they like.”

Cr White suggested the implementation of a cadet program to resolve staffing problems.

“They could start on basic housing DAs, so we have our own trained workforce and we can work through the backlog,” she said.