Deny Everything

27 April 2010

Why NSW urban development is going nowhere and what must be done to fix it. A qualitative study

The Urban Taskforce has released a new research report: Deny Everything.

Deny Everything is a qualitative study explaining the reforms that are required to make the NSW planning system work once again. It is an ideal resource for policy-makers and anyone else who cares about the future of our urban communities. Deny Everything was released in April 2010.

The report shows how the planning system in NSW is chaotic, random, dictatorial and irrational.  It explains how extremely difficult it is for any business to buy land and invest in NSW with any certainty about the likelihood and timeliness of any planning approval.

Deny Everything identifies five big things wrong with the NSW planning system:


high regulatory risk and lack of respect for property rights;
the highest development levies in Australia;
an undersupply of development sites;
a lack of support for state and regionally significant projects; and
the reinforcement of landlord oligopolies.

This report has been released together with a quantitative study commissioned by the Urban Taskforce and prepared by BIS Shrapnel: Going Nowhere.

Going Nowhere sets out, with ground-breaking clarity, how property development has collapsed in NSW since 2002. It shows how the breakdown in NSW has not been mirrored in other comparable states. It leaves the reader with no choice but to acknowledge that whatever is wrong with NSW, it is a home grown problem.

The development of new housing, well-located workplaces and quality retail precincts will continue to fall short of NSWs requirements as long as the planning system is unreformed. In particular, Going Nowhere tells us that the ˜no reform option will:

leave the states economy between $3.9 billion and $8.3 billion worse off by 2035
deprive the NSW budget of between $1 billion and $2.5 billion in additional revenue by 2020 and between $5 billion and $10.5 billion by 2028;
make Melbourne Australia’s largest city by 2037;
leave the Metropolitan Strategy as a mere rear vision mirror, reminding us what Sydney would have had if we retained the policy environment of the 1990s, when NSW housing production was strong; and
deny NSW the benefits of increased overseas migration migration that would otherwise help the state fund public services and maintain a sufficiently large labour force to keep our economy on an even keel.

The Urban Taskforce never criticises without advancing solutions. Deny Everything complements Going Nowhere by explaining the serious flaws in the NSW planning system that have triggered a massive flight of capital out of the state.

This report sets out a 12 point plan to:


introduce new statutory objectives for the planning system, based around the principles of:

– supporting the states economy;
– promoting ecologically sustainable development;
– promoting liveable communities;
– managing impacts on public infrastructure; and
– promoting private investment by respecting property rights;


impose new rules to limit bureaucratic and political games by ensuring that development meeting pre-determined standards is entitled to approval;


force consent authorities to deal with matters promptly, within a deemed-to-comply timetable;


reduce uncertainty by clearly defining the matters that can be considered in the development assessment process;


ensure that a private property owner is properly compensated for removal of land use rights by the government;


reduce and reform the highest local council development levies in Australia;


redesign state infrastructure contribution levies so that economic distortions are reduced and there is greater transparency;


emulate Victoria by introducing stamp duty concessions for off-the-plan home purchases;


reform the template being used in the preparation of new local environmental plans – so it genuinely promotes good urban outcomes and reduces over-regulation;


progress the rezoning of land for development as promised in numerous strategies and give proponents Queensland-style appeal rights when rezoning proposals are unreasonably refused or delayed;


improve the handling of state and regionally significant projects by improving the expertise of those assessing the applications; and


remove the ability of bureaucrats and politicians to second guess the market and/or take into account the loss of trade that might be suffered by existing businesses as a result of new development.


Download Deny Everything FREE as a PDF (1.5 MB)


Download Going Nowhere FREE as a PDF (2.1 MB)


You can also purchase Going Nowhere as a book for $27.50 (inc. GST), plus postage, by e-mailing your details to

More information on Going Nowhere >