Local government services are essential and our members have been keeping the community safe during this Covid-19 outbreak with services ranging from waste collection to rangers and lifeguards, library services, garden maintenance and so much more. With communities bunkering down to stay safe our local government members have been there to ensure they can do so in a safe environment. We want to share this latest update from the Office of Local Government.

Councils encouraged to keep outdoor recreational facilities open where possible

Outdoor activities

It’s important for our community’s health and wellbeing that people are able to exercise safely, while maintaining social distancing.

Councils have sought clarification on the status of council operated and owned outdoor recreational facilities, including tennis courts and golf courses, under the Public Health Orders.

While premises used for the purpose of indoor recreational facilities must close, outdoor recreational facilities, unless specifically prohibited within the Order, can remain open, provided persons using the facility adhere to the orders around social distancing and public gatherings.

Outdoor facilities that are prohibited in the Order and therefore must remain closed include public swimming pools, outdoor playground or gym equipment and skate parks.

Where social distancing rules can be met, the NSW Government encourages councils to consider keeping these facilities open in order to provide exercise options for their community. Exercise can include limited forms of competition provided social distancing can be adhered to.

As the Order makes clear, words or expressions used in clause 7 have the same meaning as they have in the Standard Instrument set out in the Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order 2006. So under the Public Health Order only the type of premises specified in the Order must be closed. As the Order references defined planning terms such as community facilities only facilities that are used for such planning purposes are affected.

This means that land used for any of the following purposes does not have to be closed to the public:
• a golf course, a golf driving range or a mini-golf centre
• a tennis court
• a paint ball centre
• rifle range
• water-ski centre.

Facilities such as toilets used in conjunction with and ancillary to the use of a facility for the purposes of recreation facilities (outdoor) can remain open but measures to ensure social distancing rules are observed may have to be considered.

Please refer to the Public Health Order for the specific indoor and outdoor facilities listed.

If you have any questions, please contact your Council Engagement Manager.

Council planning notifications go online

Construction engineeringCouncils will now be able to notify their communities of local planning matters online under new regulations to ensure the public receives the most accurate and up-to-date information during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 has been amended to remove the requirement on councils to notify planning processes or applications in local newspapers.

The changes are effective immediately and ensure councils can efficiently comply with regulatory requirements for notifications.

They recognise that many local newspapers have either closed or transitioned to online only delivery platforms, often with a paywall, and consequently outdated newspaper notification requirements have been removed.

The reforms ensure information on development applications and planning instruments that are being publicly exhibited is consistently available online, while giving councils and the Department flexibility to additionally use other methods of notification where appropriate. This helps ensure equity where internet access is limited.

Amendments have been made to most requirements in the Regulation for public notification in a newspaper.

These include requirements relating to:
• development control plans
• contributions plans
• local and state significant development applications
• modification applications
• development consents
• complying development certificates
• activities under Part 5 of the EP&A Act where an environmental impact statement is required
• paper subdivision development plans.

For clauses requiring public notification in place of landowner’s consent to the lodgement of development applications made by public authorities, the existing requirement for either advertisement in a newspaper circulating in the area or notification in writing directly to the landowner is retained to ensure affected landowners are notified. However, these clauses have been updated to additionally require online notification.

The requirement to retain newspaper notice records as evidence of the notice of relevant planning matters has also been removed.

Read the Department’s media release here.

Councils urged to keep tips open to the public

tipThe NSW Government strongly encourages, where possible, all councils to keep critical waste and recycling facilities open to the community.

Despite public health orders listing restrictions to activities and places that are closed, the waste and recycling industry should remain open and continue to provide its important services to the community and businesses.

This includes keeping waste and recycling centres open so that people can easily dispose of their waste.

A factsheet has been prepared by the Environment Protection Authority to support the continued operation of waste and recycling facilities during COVID-19.

The factsheet is available here.

Tell us about your great work during pandemic
Tell us what you thinkThe Office of Local Government (OLG) wants to hear from councils about the great work they are doing to support their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have a success story to tell, please send a 200-300 word description, a photo and any relevant links to media@olg.nsw.gov.au. Success stories will be published on the OLG COVID-19 website.

Information and resources
PPE supplier register now available
The NSW Government has released a register of suppliers which have indicated their ability to provide critical supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 crisis. The register is available here.

OLG COVID-19 webpage updated
Councils can access the latest information and resources, news and updates and council success stories via the OLG COVInformationID-19 webpage. Individual tabs have been set up across the top of the page to make it easier to navigate and find information. 

Online survey reminder
OLG is reminding councils to complete an online survey each day to make it easier to report their needs and issues. 

Data on COVID-19 cases
Councils can access the latest data on the number of COVID-19 cases by local government area and by local health district on the NSW Health website here

Councils can access the latest information and resources about COVID-19 on the NSW GovernmentNSW HealthCommonwealth Government and Commonwealth Department of Health websites.

This is an Office of Local Government update.