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Powerful alliance calls for planning overhaul in NSW

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Powerful alliance calls for planning overhaul in NSW

A powerful new coalition representing the customers of the NSW planning system have come together to call for a major overhaul to the state’s complex and slow development assessment system.

The Coalition for Planning Reform was launched this month at a summit of business, property and professional groups saying it was a ‘now or never’ time of the electoral cycle for wholesale changes.

Coalition members said they were heartened by the NSW Government’s statements of intent to date, but had come together to ensure a broad-based reform program is pursued, make a positive contribution to the public debate and influence the shape of any subsequent reform legislation to ensure NSW has an efficient and orderly planning system for the good of the community.

The Coalition issued a communiqué outlining the outcomes of its desired reform program and its key elements, which continues below:

The NSW Coalition for Planning Reform comprises the undersigned organisations that represent individuals, professionals and businesses, which are key stakeholders in the NSW development assessment (DA) system and the state’s long-term, sustainable growth.

Our Coalition welcomes recent statements that the NSW Government is considering options for reforming the state’s DA system. Together we urge the Government to follow through on these statements and commit to a multi-faceted DA reform agenda.

DA reform is sorely needed, despite the efforts of local government, the professions and the property industry to improve practices within the existing regulatory framework.

The case for DA reform is widespread and supported by external and credible works including the IPART Review into Reducing Business Regulation, the Percy Allen report on the Financial Sustainability of NSW Local Government, the Development Assessment Forum’s Leading Practice Principles, the Productivity Commission’s report on business regulation and the Prime Minister’s Regulation Taskforce’s report on general regulatory issues.

DA reform is more than just improving processing times. It is about increased certainty and consistency. It is about improved business activity and economic growth. It is about better design and community input into strategic planning. It is about a strong and more strategic local government. Importantly, it is about long-term solutions and sustainable development.

Outcomes

We believe it is important that reform options be debated rationally and our Coalition for Planning Reform intends to play a strong role in this debate in NSW. This reform agenda should be designed to deliver the following outcomes:

A. Facilitate well-managed and sustainable urban growth.

B. Better built outcomes through the facilitation of innovation and sustainable development.

C. A 30% reduction in state wide processing times within three years.

D. Better decision making processes with less politicisation, more transparency, less corruption risk and greater accountability.

E. A more attractive profession to work in which is better able to retain skills and talent.

Reform program

Our organisations believe the DA reform program must consist of the following key elements.

  1. Create clear rules backed by strategic planning:
    • Roll out the Metropolitan sub-regional strategies, incorporating significant community input, so they can be embedded in local plans.
    • Continue the Government’s program of introducing a standard Local Environmental Plan and rationalising State Environmental Planning Policies.
    • Simplify and reduce documentation requirements to match the scale of the project.
    • Fix planning legislation to streamline and simplify the approvals process.
  2. Ensure a separation between policy setting and decision making powers in the development assessment system:
    • The Minister for Planning to delegate authority to a Development Assessment Commission at the state level to determine most projects currently determined by the Minister under Part 3A of the EP&A Act.
    • Establish Independent Assessment Panels (similar to South Australia) to be the consent authority for all projects at the local level not delegated to staff.
    • Ensure professional planning staff decides Ninety five percent of projects.
  3. Reduce DA processing times by 30%:
    • Rationalise the concurrence powers and processes of State government agencies (including imposing time limits) to ensure they are fully accountable.
    • Significantly increase the use of exempt and complying development.
    • Strengthen the private certification system.
    • Ensure appropriate skills and resources are available in planning, building surveying and private certification.
  4. Encourage innovation by allowing the merit assessment of innovative projects.
  5. Bring planning, development assessment and certification into the 21st century through:
    • the increased use of electronic planning, online web assessment,
    • better monitoring and reporting of the performance of the DA system, and
    • building on initiatives such as the electronic BASIX system.
  6. Establishment of a Planning Red Tape Fund to resource these reforms.

Endorsed by the following organisations:

  • Association of Accredited Certifiers
  • Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (NSW)
  • Australian Institute of Landscape Architects
  • Building Designers Association (NSW)
  • Master Builder’s Association
  • NSW Business Chamber
  • Planning Institute of Australia
  • Property Council of Australia
  • Real Estate Institute of NSW
  • Retirement Villagers Association
  • Royal Australian Institute of Architects
  • Sydney Chamber of Commerce
  • Tourism and Transport Forum Australia
  • Urban Development Institute of Australia

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