In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, all local Councils are implementing measures to protect staff and the community from the spread of the virus.
Within Sydney a number of Councils have closed customer service centres until further notice, with others reducing operating hours. Within the Hunter, all Councils have already reduced their in-person contact with the public and are doing their best to continue ‘business as usual’, particularly for anything that doesn’t require face to face activities. Most Councils already have e-portals to lodge applications, and many services are available online or via phone. We have put together a list detailing the status of each Council however, given how quickly things are changing at the moment, we would recommended that you call or email Council in the first instance rather than attend their office if you require planning advice.
All drop-in sessions and face to face community engagement have also ceased as a result of the changes, which may impact the timeframes for approvals or strategies relying on consultation.
We do expect delays as Council staff adjust to operational changes, including migrating staff to working from home arrangements, and disruptions to how – and how often – Councils meet. This may lead to longer determination times, and Councils may struggle to meet the timeframes expected to update their long-term planning frameworks, including the preparation of Local Strategic Planning Statements and Local Housing Strategies.
We are doing our best to support Council staff and our clients through this period of unprecedented disruption. Please refer to our website for further detail and if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out.