What is a Local Approvals policy?

    The Local Approvals policy controls activities under Section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993. The policy:

    • Identifies works that are exempt i.e. can be undertaken without prior approval 
    • Specifies which works require approval through an activity application 
    • Outlines criteria for consideration in the approval of activity applications 

    What does it mean if an activity is exempt from approval under Section 68 of the Local Government Act?

    Table 3 of the Local Approvals policy (pp. 7-15) lists works which are proposed to be exempt from Section 68 approval. It also outlines if other approvals are required for the proposed works. For example, busking requires the completion of a busking permit application.

    Which activities require approval under Section 68 of the Local Government Act?

    Part 2 (pp.16 - 28) of the Local Approvals policy lists activities which require approval under Section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993. Examples of works that require approval under Section 68 include mobile food vending vehicles (food trucks), outdoor dining and market stalls on public land.

    How are these activities currently controlled?

    Council officers currently rely upon the policy positions of the former councils with respect to each activity. This means that a different process is followed depending on whether outdoor dining is proposed in Balmain or Newtown. It also means that more activities listed under Section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993 require prior approval from Council, increasing red tape and processing times for certain activities.

    Does this policy cover activities on roads?

    The Local Approval policy covers works on public roads where consent under Section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993 is required in addition to approval under Section 138 of the Road Act 1993. One approval will grant consent under both Acts. Application forms and relevant information is available on the Council website.

    Works on roads include activities such as erecting a hoarding on a footpath, outdoor dining and mobile cranes that swing over public places.

    Where is outdoor dining permitted on public footpaths?

    The width and condition of footpaths in the Inner West is varied; some footpaths are wide enough to safely accommodate pedestrian thoroughfares with dining against the kerb while others are on busy roads. Council needs to be flexible regarding where and when footpath dining is permitted to enhance public safety while maximising opportunities for small business. 

    The LAP carefully considers the implications of this and has controls to manage trading against the building line if: 

    • it is supported by a well established pattern of approvals in the immediate area 
    • there is low pedestrian activity, low vehicle traffic and a narrow road reserve 
    • pedestrian ‘pinch points’ are not created and there are adequate passing  areas. 

    Can licensed premises use a section 68 application for outdoor dining on the footpath?

    Footpath dining associated with a small bar or pub is not exempt development and thus requires the development consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The possible amenity impacts of this form of development are such that it warrants a merit-based assessment on a case-by-case basis.

    How can I get the footpath outside my business improved to allow footpath dining?

    Public domain enhancements are beyond the scope of the Local Approvals policy. They have however have been recommended in the draft Employment and Retail Lands Strategy and will be considered in due course. Please advise Council if you have any concerns about footpath conditions so they can be addressed by the relevant team. This feedback is welcomed as it can help inform future public domain projects.

    Are A-frame signs allowed on public footpaths?

    Council has limited space on its footpaths for pedestrian access and public utilities to be provided in an accessible way without affecting public safety. This has become particularly apparent in the current environment where COVID-19 requires physical distancing measures of 1.5 m separation which is difficult to achieve on many public footpaths. A-frame signs further reduce space available for pedestrians and are thus not considered to be in the public interest. 

    Council will work closely with local businesses, through its economic development team, to consider alternative methods of providing signage to facilitate greater pedestrian traffic in our town centres. to encourage use of the footpath for activities while providing safe circulation space for the community. 

    Do I need consent to place a skip bin on the road?

    Yes. Consent is currently required to place a skip bin on a public road and this process has been retained in the draft Local Approvals Policy.

    What about food trucks on private property?

    The provisions relating to food trucks in the draft Local Approvals policy relate to their operation on public land. Food trucks on private property are governed by the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

    Are markets covered by the draft Local Approvals policy?

    Provisions for market stalls are included in the draft Local Approvals policy to encourage a wider range of activities in select locations for up to 12 days per year. Food sales from these markets are limited to fresh fruit and vegetables and packaged goods to minimise loss of sales for nearby cafes and restaurants. 

    Markets which occur on private property or for more than 12 days per year require development consent and cannot be approved under the Local Approvals policy. Approval processes for such markets (including booking individual markets stalls within existing markets) remain unchanged and are not affected by the Local Approvals policy. 

    Can I install a new fireplace?

    The installation of oil and solid fuel heating appliances such as fire places will not be permitted under the draft Local Approvals policy. These forms of heating consume more energy, contribute to climate change more than efficient forms of heating such as gas or electricity. In addition, smoke from wood fires can be a major contributor to air pollution.

    How do COVID-19 restrictions affect activities under this policy?

    Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, state government restrictions are in place, banning certain activities covered by this draft policy from being undertaken (e.g. outdoor dining). This does not stop an applicant from obtaining a Section 68 approval from Council for the relevant activity in anticipation of restrictions being eased in the future.