The City of Gold Coast’s New Express Development Approval Service to replace the ageing Risksmart Service.

The City of the Gold Coast has been working on a new “FastTrack” Development approval process to streamline, low complexity Development Approvals. This will provide the construction industry with speedy approvals to keep the construction wheel turning, similar to the current Risksmart service offered by Council since 2007.

The new fast track Development Approval service will be renamed as the Express DA service, and will replace the ageing Risksmart service offered by Council.

The new Express DA model will change the process of how low complexity Development Applications are lodged, reviewed and approved. These updates include:

  • The Introduction of a pre submission stage;
  • A Dedicated Express DA assessment team;
  • Improvements on the applicable criteria of what application types will constitute an Express DA; and
  • The introduction of supporting tools and guidance.

The introduction of a Dedicated Express DA team.

The City of Gold Coast will now have a dedicated express DA team, who will solely deal with express Development Applications. This team will be made up of planners and internal referrals (ie landscape, transport and water and waste), and will assist in providing consistent outcomes in a shorter timeframe than the current Risksmart system.

Express DA Process

The new Express DA service will be broken up into four (4) individual steps to ensure a consistent approach to assessment. The four (4) steps are:

  • Step 1 – Pre submission stage;
  • Step 2 – Lodgement stage;
  • Step 3 – Assessment stage;
  • Step 4 – Decision stage.

The way this process differs from the current development application process is the introduction of the pre submission stage. The pre submission stage is mandatory, however, it is a free service and will provide external consultants the ability to work with the express DA team to ensure:

  • Applicants are on the right track;
  • Any potential issues are addressed up front;
  • A smooth and faster assessment of the application once lodged;
  • Reducing the likelihood of an information request; and
  • Applications are well made to address compliance with the City Plan provisions.

The new pre submission step is expected to take up to five (5) business days to complete, whereby the applicant will receive a ‘Lodgement Ready’ letter from Council once the Express DA team deems the subject application is ready for lodgement and assessment.

It is expected that the introduction of the pre submission step will reduce the likelihood of an information request. Therefore, it is envisaged that the assessment of an Express DA will be relatively quicker than the traditional application assessment process. Council expects that after the formal receipt of a Development Application, 10 – 15 business days will be required to complete Steps two – four, listed above.

Eligible Express DA application types

The Express DA model, has kept the 21 land use activities from the current Risksmart model. A further land use of a ‘Home Based Business’ (if a Bed and Breakfast) has now been included as an acceptable land use, as it has been deemed that this additional land use activity will assist in the economic recovery of the City.

To confirm eligibility of certain, low complexity Development Applications, Council has introduced a gate system to ensure the land use activities are eligible for the Express DA process. These are:

  • Gate 1 – Eligible zones and land use activities – This gate outlines the zones and land uses which are eligible for assessment under the express DA process;
  • Gate 2 – Exclusions – This gate outlines, upfront, the instances (exclusions) when an application is not eligible for assessment under the express DA process, even if it is an eligible land use activity is in an eligible zone; and
  • Gate 3 – This gate outlines the assessment benchmarks, where certain types, specialist reports, statements or drawings are required to accompany an application.

If all of the requirements outlined within these gates above, have been met, means the application is eligible for assessment under the Express DA model. However, Council will still reserve the right to exclude an application from this process, whereby Council deems the issues are too complex to progress through the Express DA model.

Findasite anticipates that land uses that are listed as ‘accepted subject to requirements’, and ‘code assessable’, will be able to utilise the express DA process in most instances.

The updated Express DA application Fee Structure

To assist in kick starting the Express DA model, Council has approved a 50% reduction of the applicable application fees for 12 months from the commencement date, being 27 October 2020, through to 27 October 2021. Following this period, the fees will revert to the 10% discount previously offered by the current Risksmart model. This provides a great opportunity for property owners to complete their development application in the next year.

It is anticipated that with the introduction of the new Express DA model, Council can streamline the low complexity, Development Application to kick start the construction industry and assist the community and city in economic recovery after the COVID – 19 Pandemic.

Please follow the link below to the City of Gold Coast ‘have your say’ website for further information:

Should you be interested in discussing any of the information above, please give Findasite Town Planners a call on 0433 145 514 (Chris) or 0409 888 498 (Steve). Alternatively, email us on

About us

Findasite Town Planners was established in 2012 as a Town Planning Firm that offered affordable Town Planning solutions to every level of developer. The firm specialises in every aspect of Town Planning from start to finish.

Our Mission

Our mission at Findasite is to take out the stress involved in developments by taking the client from the start of the development process (sourcing the site) all the way to the end (Construction).


Website Design by Gold Coast Graphic Design | Website Hosting and Development by Jason Yates75