COUNCILLORS will be asked whether they want to take tougher measures against developers who either carry out work without consent or breach their conditions.
The move could allow the council to act upon penalising developers for proven illegal works within six months of becoming aware of it.
They will consider a report on Thursday night on a number of developments, including Kurim Shopping Centre, Chemist Warehouse, the Byng Street boutique hotel and Highland Heritage Estate.
Planning and Development Committee chairman Russell Turner said every case needed to be dealt with on its merits.
“There are some infringements where people are ignorant and some where people are taking advantage of the council, deliberately,” he said.
“They know they’ve done the wrong thing and hope they can get away with it, and they’re happy to go to court.”
Cr Turner supported the council’s existing policy of dealing with honest mistakes through education, while applying tougher measures for wilful wrongdoing.
He believed the level of non-compliance may have risen a little, but not significantly.
In a report to be considered on Thursday night, Orange City Council development services David Waddell said the council had developed a practice of working with developers on development issues rather than a more punitive approach.
He said fines were levied after warnings were issued for more serious, intended and continued breaches.
However, the report said legal advice indicated the council’s ability to impose fines on a hotel development at 62 Byng Street, where a shed was removed without consent, and Highland Heritage Estate, where a second storey was added to an office, may have passed due to the statute of limitations.
The NSW Planning and Assessment Act sets the time limit at two years.
“Council can set the tone for the next three-year term by either instructing the general manager to continue the practice of working with developers across the LGA combined with an education campaign [or] setting a more punitive direction, with the use of more fines in particular,” Mr Waddell said.
Meanwhile, the council has sought intervention from the NSW Land and Environment Court to enforce demolition orders on the Kurim Shopping Centre.
Mr Waddell also said two sets of orders and warnings had been issued for the Chemist Warehouse in Summer Street after the applicant built signage different to what the council approved, but the council had not acted on the orders yet and the signage remained in place.
He said other matters included a motel using a function centre next door as a restaurant without consent and an earthmoving company, which had yet to move from its old premises into approved premises.
“Two development applications are currently before council for potential illegal occupation of business premises,” he said.
“It is likely that their occupation will be approved retrospectively without business discontinuity.”
The report noted several examples of heritage buildings disturbed, unknowingly, without permission and a builder who had undertaken illegal works on a number of occasions then modified the consent afterwards.