Council-related Development Application Conflict of Interest Guidelines
28 February 2023
In response to stakeholder feedback, amendments have been made to the regulation to clarify the application of the policy. The amendments clarify that council-related development applications do not include development applications which includes development on public roads managed by a council, such as driveway for a dwelling house across a footpath or other minor works.
The policy also does not apply to development applications, which were lodged, but not finally determined, before the commencement date of the policy of 3 April 2023.
Councils will be required to have its conflict of interest policy in place prior to determining council-related development applications from 3 April 2023.
Council-related development application conflict of interest guidelines
Councils are development regulators. But they also can be the developer, landowner or hold a commercial interest in the land they regulate. Where councils have this dual role, an inherent conflict can arise between their interests in the development and their duty as regulator.
Identifying these conflicts of interest early and finding ways to address them is crucial to good governance and allows councils to strengthen their relationship with communities and build and enhance trust.
The following requirements have been introduced into the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 to address conflicts of interest in council related development:
- Councils must adopt and have a policy that specifies how conflicts of interest in connection with council-related development applications will be handled. The policy must comply with the requirements in these Guidelines (section 66A).
- Council-related development applications must now be accompanied by either a management strategy statement, which explains how the council will manage potential conflicts of interest, or a statement that the council has no management strategy for the application (section 30B).
- Councils must record conflicts of interest in connection with each council-related development application, and the measures taken to manage the conflicts, in their existing DA register (section 240).
- Council-related development applications must be exhibited for a minimum of 28 days to ensure transparency during the assessment process (Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, schedule 1, clause 9B).
While the regulation changes do not mandate the use of the framework once a development consent is issued, it is best practice when developing their policies for councils to also address conflicts that may occur after development consent has been granted.
This could be as simple as stating in the policy that the council will seek to enter a shared services arrangement with a neighbouring council about this phase of the development process, for any development that is the subject of the policy.