The benefits of negotiating specific conditions within a Development Approval (DA)

  1. Gaining more favourable conditions decreases the cost of the project and improves profits.
  2. Ensuring that council or the state government isn’t imposing unsupported conditions in the approval e.g. council may condition the building of a pathway on a road and it is in the developer’s best interest to check that this is in line with the legislation standards and Planning Scheme, that the application was assessed against.

Conditions can be imposed in error… however all is not lost…

It is possible that a council planner may impose a condition on an approval believing it’s a good idea, rather than the condition being triggered by the legislation that the application was assessed against.

If the approval has been recently issued you would need to suspend the appeals period and negotiate that condition with council to try and form an agreement so they can issue a ‘Negotiated Decision Notice’ with the condition/s either amended or deleted.

Council must be notified within 20 business days, depending on the type of application, that the appeals period may be suspended and negotiated. The next step in the process is to negotiate an extension of time that both parties agree to.

If the approval is really old and was granted years ago, it is still possible to negotiate the conditions imposed by making an ‘Application to Change’ to the DA. Submit the application with justification as to why you believe the conditions should be changed. Unsupported conditions in old approvals should always be challenged. It is usually worth the time, effort and cost.

Cost of the process of negotiating conditions of approval

The fee is around $2,000 to $3,000 depending on the number of conditions you are applying to have changed. Definitely worth paying a relatively small fee to reduce the overall cost of the project and improving the bottom line.

If council has imposed an unsupported condition you may need to brace yourself for some tough negotiations, however, if you can prove that the condition isn’t supported by local or state legislation, then it is highly likely that you will have success in having conditions amended or removed and it will be worth the cost and effort.

Self-representation vs engaging a professional Project Manager

Unless you have a very good understanding of the legislation, we would highly recommend using an experienced Project Manager who has in-depth knowledge of the Planning Scheme and both state and local legislation. Your consultant will go in to battle for you and negotiate on your behalf, armed with all the knowledge you may not have. Often this process is a ‘normal’ course of business for the consultant and often he will have experience in overcoming similar conditions in the past. An inexperienced developer may not even be aware that the condition can potentially be removed!

It’s vital that you engage a consultant who will actively seek out those conditions that can potentially be amended or removed, to improve the DA, rather than just accepting what you’ve been issued by council.

Who would be a typical client?

At ESQ we negotiate DA conditions every time we see an approval. Whether for:

  • our own land development projects;
  • applications submitted on behalf of our developer clients;
  • old approvals inherited from a client’s previous consultant; or
  • a client who has purchased land with a DA already in place.

We always review the conditions on the approval as part of the due diligence process to work out whether we can reduce the cost of the project by amending or removing the conditions which, generally, will improve the viability of the project.

Whether you are looking for a potential development opportunity, or you have an existing property that you are considering developing, Engineering Solutions Qld has a service strategy to suit your project needs. Whether it is a small residential, commercial, industrial or a large-scale land subdivision, we have the knowledge and expertise in consulting engineering and project management to guide you through your development journey. 


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