What is a statement of environmental effects (SoEE)
The Statement of environmental effects (the statement) can be the most crucial document for your development application. A well drafted statement can mean the difference between an approval and a refusal.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that the report only deals with the impact the development has on the natural environmental (ie the removal of trees). The statement of environmental effects deals with the natural environment as well as the built environment and the social environment. The SoEE is a report that provides an assessment of the development against the relevant planning legislation and relevant development controls.
The best start when writing your own statement of environmental effects is to check the DA Tracker for the Council you are applying to. DA trackers is an area on the Council website where they generally provide a list of recent development applications and the documents of these applications can be viewed through the portal. This is a good way to get an example of how to set up a statement and what it needs to include.
As a bare minimum a statement of environmental effects must include the following:
1. Description of the site.
The description of the site should provide the following information:
a. Site address.This includes the physical address as well as the legal address (LOT and DP)
b. A general description of the site. This can be simples such as “The site has a site area of 700sqm and located on site is an existing dwelling with swimming pool”
c. Any other information that will make the story of the site be able to tell the story to the reader. This is where you might describe the site as being excessively steep, containing dense vegetation or other features relevant.
2. Description of the proposed development.
The description of the development normally is in a list form and usually follows the following format:
The proposed development seeks consent for the (construction of a new dwelling/alterations and additions to a new dwelling/swimming pool etc). The development comprises:
Provide a dot point description of the development to describe the plans to someone as if they were not able to view the plans.
3. Assessment of the development against the Local Environmental Plan for the area.
This is often where most people get stuck as the Local Environmental Plan is often quite daunting to find the relevant clauses. As a general rule the best way of addressing the LEP is addressing the zoning for the site and the addressing the clauses located within Part 4 of the LEP. Part 4 deals with the main development standards such as height limits, floor space ratios and minimum lot size restrictions.
4. Assessment of the development against the development control plan
The development control plan is a road map of what Council would like to see development to be within the area but is not as black and white as the LEP is! The DCP is essentially a guideline but it still has weight in the assessment process. It is recommended that if you are writing your own statement then your development should comply with the controls within the DCP.
Who else can prepare a statement of environmental effects?
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