By James Barker – Manager Water & Environment PEAKURBAN VIC
Drainage solutions are a critical part of the land development process, requiring approvals from the planning phase of the project, through to detailed design and construction. Any delays across these phases can affect the overall timeline of the project.
Authorities have statutory requirements to meet response times, including:
- Pre-development advice and specifications (feasibility) – 28 days
- Provision of scheme plans – 7 days
- VicSmart assessments – 28 days
- Planning permits to Local Council – 28 days
- Certification of plan – 28 days
- Design certification functional design comments and acceptance – 21 days
- Offer of conditions (non-works) – 28 days.
- Offer of conditions (works) – 60 days.
- Stormwater quality offsets – 14 days
- Compliance statements (non-works) – 7 days
- Flood levels – 14 days
However, experience on a variety of projects during the past 12 months has seen these timelines push out well beyond these requirements.
PEAKURBAN believe that a combination of principles can minimise approval delays and mitigate this impact as much as possible.
These principles include:
- Relationships: Having meaningful professional relationships with individuals within these authorities allows for increased communication, builds trust and fast tracks approvals.
- Engage Early with the Authorities: Discussing the proposed approach and solution with the Authorities early is often key to avoiding surprises down the track. Agreeing key concepts early enables the preparation of reports and analysis that better align with Authority expectations.
- Provide Detailed and Complete Submissions: The more information authorities have access to, the easier it is for them to see the whole picture. Often the tendency can be to submit what you have as quickly as possible and provide the rest in due course. We always recommend providing a more comprehensive submission upfront. No piecemeal approaches, no shortcuts.
- Use Local Knowledge and Past Experience: Seeking immediate feedback from authorities on projects is often problematic. Instead we can rely on our past experience and knowledge of similar projects in the area. This can take many forms, such as previous negotiations with authorities or an ever-expanding library of modelling and data.
- Make Ourselves Available for Follow Up Meetings: Following every submission, particularly for the more challenging ones, we make ourselves available to meet with authorities to discuss the intricacies of the project. It can help greatly to workshop problems with authorities, particularly when not to standard.
- Discuss non-standard solutions early: As engineers we always want to deliver the most efficient and cost-effective outcome for our client. Time is money and the delay in approval times with authorities for non-standard items can often outstrip any benefit to the project. A more standard solution might result in a faster approval pathway.
- Collaborate with other Developers: often the fastest way to an approval is to present the ultimate solution to the Authorities. This often involves agreements and consents with other developers to deliver the ultimate solution. Facilitating agreements between developers resolves this issue for the Authorities and gets the projects out of the ground faster.
This philosophy is, like our organisation, forever evolving. We welcome advice from our new and existing clients on how we can continue to deliver strong outcomes in an ever-changing industry.