Approval times slashed: Bunbury CEO

DEVELOPMENT and building approval times in the City of Bunbury have been halved under the streamlined processing system, says City of Bunbury CEO Michael Whitaker.

He said recent changes had improved efficiency while not compromising the city’s statutory responsibility to protect the interests of its community.

Mr Whitaker made his comments in response to an article in the 24 February issue of Business News which raised criticism of his administration in relation to building approval processes.

Local architect Robert Nichol-son said Bunbury, which had traditionally been pro-development, had changed its policy as recently as four months ago.

“For the first time since I’ve been in Bunbury there has been a total disregard to development,” Mr Nicholson said.

He said delays and demands on developers to produce more and more documents would force developers away.

“Bunbury is going down the Busselton model. It becomes so complex that no-one can give a firm answer to what you can and cannot do,” he said.

Mr Whitaker said the facts showed a different picture – one that indicated more efficiency, not less.

Subdivision applications are now processed within an average of less than four weeks, planning applications in under five weeks and building applications in an average of 3.3 weeks, Mr Whitaker said.

He also questioned Mr Nicholson’s claim that Bunbury’s economic development was under threat.

“Bunbury has an exciting future and major developers are investing in high quality developments,” he said.

Major projects announced in the past three months included a $30 million waterside resort, residential and commercial development in the central business district and a $22 million shopping complex in the southern suburbs.

Pindan Constructions, in association with the WA Government, recently revealed plans for a $50 million urban renewal project.

“Bunbury is experiencing record growth throughout the economy and this is reflected most in building and development applications,” Mr Whitaker said.

He said the improvements in approval times stemmed from recommendations of an independent review.

“These changes have already achieved a significant reduction in approval times,” Mr Whitaker said.

“Even so, we’re always striving to do better and further improvements will occur as we continue to fine tune internal procedures and structures.

“The building and development industry is also playing a role by ensuring that applications are of a high standard and include all the required information,” he said.

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