Despite a recent crackdown on development application processing times, Yass Valley residents say they are still taking too long.
Councillor Geoff Frost said concerned residents had reported three weeks as the wait time for staff at Yass Valley Council to look at development applications.
In a bid to address the issue, he asked the council to provide details about the average processing time for a standard development application at the council’s ordinary meeting on July 22.
However, Yass Valley Council general manager Chris Berry said he could not provide those details because the council’s new Magiq software was unable to generate reports on processing times.
Mr Berry said the council had invested in a “boutique” software system that could be tailored to the council’s needs but that its boutique nature also meant tailoring the software took longer.
He also said planning was not the only council department Magiq handled.
“Payroll, procurement, purchase orders and rates are also using the software and we have to juggle the priorities of the developer. Obviously, rates and payroll have been much higher on the list than planning in terms of the development of the system,” Mr Berry said.
In October, the council dropped notifications of new housing developments in residential zones and smaller developments such as sheds and pergolas in an attempt to reduce processing times.
Mr Berry said staff leave, resourcing levels (especially engineering support) and increasing requirements for specialist reports such as a biodiversity assessment had also affected processing times.
“Overtime is offered to staff to deal with any spikes and backlogs, however, this is not mandatory,” Mr Berry said.
“Options for locums to assist with overloads are currently being investigated via the usual procurement process.”
Mr Berry said the council usually had enough qualified planning and building staff to process the number of applications received.
He said the council’s new director of planning and environment, Julie Rogers, would review the processing and resourcing for development assessment.
The Magiq issue has also been resolved and the reporting of processing times will soon be available, Mr Berry said.