Opening Your Development Consent Mystery Box

Posted: by Jonathan Marquet

Unless you’re a town planner or a developer, the terms “DA” or “development consent” are probably not going to float your boat.

But if you’re in business, the question of development consent is something that you need to consider at some point. It’s probably in a mystery box at the back of your office – you may be wondering about what could be inside but have been too afraid to open it.

It’ll come as no surprise that (usually) to put land to certain uses or build certain things on land, you need consent from your local council. This is as true for a developer seeking to subdivide farmland, as it is for a small business running a shop on the main street. And it applies regardless of whether you own the land or have a lease over it.

So have you checked whether development consent is required to run your business? Maybe council issued a consent sometime in the distant past. Is your business meeting the requirements set out in that development consent?

Particular uses such as restaurants, eateries and retail shops, can attract conditions that relate to how much parking is required and disability access. These could be a financial disaster (or attract a fine or prosecution from council) waiting to happen if you don’t check what is required in your situation.

Enough of the scary talk. What you might not have thought about, is that there could be some unique opportunities available for your business. Maybe your development consent contains additional approval for a related use – such as commercial offices or a small café or community facility? This could be scope for a better yield on your investment or an opportunity to grow your business through associating with a complementary venture.

It is important to note that not all uses of land require council consent (and many only require minimal council consent). You might have had a great idea for how to engage with a new market or expand your existing operations but thought that getting council approval would be too costly and time consuming.
Things like having an ATM installed, changing uses from an office to a shop and having a mobile coffee cart in your showroom, are options that may involve no consent from council (or minimal consent). Of course, you would need to obtain advice as to what options are available to your business, depending on your particular use and location and type of building.

There may be ghosts in your development consent mystery box or there may be hidden treasures. Maybe now’s the time to have a look in the box to see what may lie ahead for your business.

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