Applying for a DA is about to get a lot easier
BALLINA Shire Council will merge two of its internal teams from September 1 in order to offer a better development application service to residents.
Matthew Wood, council's director of Planning and Environmental Health, confirmed the move.
"The adjustment we are going to make will be the merging of our Building Services and Development Assessment sections," he said.
"This means that our planners and our building surveyors and the rest of the teams will be working together under one manager.
"The managers of one of those teams retired a while ago, and a decision was made to pull the teams together, and that's because they perform a lot of similar functions and also balance the workload ".
Mr Wood said the council is currently recruiting three more people for that team: a building officer, a planning officer and a plumbing and drainage resource, to bring the total number of people in the new team to 18.
He said the change will allow council to streamline the service they offer to residents.
"Since these teams have always operated separately, the idea is that they will operate in a more integrated way from now on," he said.
"This will save (residents) a little bit of time, and it will make it a little bit easier to navigate when they come to the front counter, so when the customers approach council for an application, rather that a decision being made on what path it needs to go, it will all go to the same team now."
Mr Wood said council received around 650 to 700 development applications a year in 2015, and these days they receive almost 1000 a year.
"That's why we need to look for ways to do things better," he explained.
"Relative to about same time last year, applications are steady, but really interestingly, we had a substantial increase of the number of applications during March, at the beginning of the pandemic."
Council currently receives between 70 to 80 development applications a month.