Last week the NSW Government released A New Planning System for New South Wales – Green Paper. The Green Paper outlines major changes in the planning system which aim to involving the community early in guiding planning decisions, place more emphasis on preparing good policies upfront, reduce red tape and delays, ensure infrastructure is planned for and delivered and provide greater access to information.
The changes hope to instil a ‘can do’ culture in the planning system, “ensuring that councils and the government are accountable for delivering the results they have committed to.”
Member for Monaro John Barilaro has welcomed the “bold vision for a more transparent, effective, and efficient planning system for NSW.”
“The new Government has got the message that communities are the best at shaping their future. The current planning system left to us by Labor ensures the community gets next to no role in strategic planning.”
“A Public Participation Charter will be developed which will require the community to be consulted as part of the plan-making and development assessment process.
“This will be a system that helps us achieve clarity around what we want for our local area and will make it simpler for the average property owner to get on with approvals for homes and businesses.
“The report also highlights that councils should give some serious consideration to adopting independent hearing and assessment panels as has happened in 11 councils already (voluntarily) across the state.
“Ensuring professional staff weigh up the merit of developments takes the politics out and ensures councillors get freed up to focus on the big strategic planning issues.”
However Shadow Minister for Planning, Linda Burney said “The O'Farrell Government's planning green paper has confirmed the Premier has broken his promise to give planning powers to local communities and councils – and is preparing to remove the rights of residents to object to specific developments in their local areas.”
"Under the O'Farrell Government's policy, local communities will lose the right to object or comment on most specific rezoning and development applications” she said.
"The green paper also confirms the O'Farrell Government is considering removing councils from determining local development proposals. Instead, government appointed and unelected officials would be making all of the decisions.”
"I fear these changes will see projects rushed through with far less scrutiny. For example, development proposals will no longer be referred to the Office of Environment and Heritage for consideration and assessment of environmental impacts.”
Under the new plan a series of Sub regional Delivery Plans would be the “new transformative delivery tool for high growth areas in NSW by directly rezoning land in key areas, avoiding where possible the need for local plans to be separately and continuously amended.”
The NSW Government proposes to introduce three new zones: Enterprise Zone to capture investment opportunities, Future Urban Release Zone to indicate future use prior to programming infrastructure investment, and Suburban Character Zone to give greater certainty in areas where the local community want to preserve local character.
The changes aim to “depol?t?cised dec?s?on making” with decision making on development applications streamed to “appropriate, independent, and expert decision makers.” State and regional scale development will continue to be assessed by the Planning Assessment Commission and the Joint Regional Planning Panels.
“The Government is proposing that all councils follow the lead of a number of major councils in adopting the use of independent experts to determine development applications.”
The Green Paper is available at www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/newplanningsystem and comments can be made until Friday 14 September 2012.