The New Reality of Plan Sealing

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen projects taking months to achieve Plan Sealing through Council – causing developers to haemorrhage money while they’re at peak debt. So we chatted to our friends at Wolter Consulting Group, to understand what can be done to achieve a smoother process and save our clients from financial stress.

But before we get to the juicy tips, let’s start with the basics of how Plan Sealing & Title Registrations work…

  • Step 1: At the end of a project, the Council will assess all relevant post-construction plans and certificates before they sign off and “seal” the Survey Plan of the land subdivision or block of apartments. This is to ensure that you complied with your original DA.
  • Step 2: You take the Sealed Plans and register them with the Titles Office.
  • Step 3: Once you get Titles you can settle your Sale Contracts… and bank some cash.
  • Step 4: You go out for a looooooong lunch !!

This process used to take about 4 weeks but not anymore.

So, What’s Changed?

Council is making plan sealing tougher than ever and it’s a very different process to two years ago. Since the introduction of the Suburban Construction Management Taskforce (SCMT) and Development Assurance Unit, we’ve noticed that some projects are taking many months to achieve plan sealing.

Why Would Council Do That?

Council’s SCMT is periodically checking sites throughout the construction process to ensure sites remain compliant with Development/ Operational Works Approvals, and specifically in accordance with the sites Construction Management Plan.

The Development Assurance Team is also periodically checking construction sites, however, this team ensures specific development outcomes have been established on-site in accordance with the Development Approval. These teams will provide advice to the Plan Sealing Officers before Council will sign off and “seal” the Survey Plan.

In the eyes of the Council, a Development Approval is a contract between a developer and the community. If that contract is not fulfilled (i.e. buildings are not built in accordance with the plans) – then the Council will delay plan sealing until its rectified or a Minor Change application is approved.

What makes matters worse – these delays are happening when your project is at peak debt! So costly is an understatement. It’s crippling and can erode all your project profit.

Also, when you’ve “bent the rules”, Council will not look favourably on you. So, there’s no urgency and no statutory timeframes that they need to adhere to. You’re beholden.

So you get the gloomy picture.

What Can You Do?

The Bluebirds, and our friends over at Wolter Consulting Group, know how to make sure you don’t get held up in the plan sealing process!

Here Are Some Super Simple Tips

  • Ensure the drawings submitted with your Development Application are what you intend to build
  • If there are changes, make sure you seek a Minor Change approval prior to commencing construction
  • Ensure your architect/superintendent undertakes regular audits with the builder during construction
  • Prior to submitting your plans to BCC, hold a pre-lodgement meeting with the Plan Sealing team to ensure they can review your application before it hits their desk
  • Investigate the potential to bond works that you know will not be finalised before your settlement deadlines

Bluebird Property Partners is a boutique residential development management and advisory company, based in Brisbane. We provide a dedicated and personalised service to developers and landowners who may not have the time, expertise or resources to deliver their projects.

Wolter Consulting’s Project Delivery Team can be your central point of coordination to fast track your plan sealing. As a specialised service, they monitor your project day-to-day to ensure it complies with all development approval requirements.

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