Essential For NSW Planning Minister To ‘Clear Decks’ For New Development

Today’s statement by NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes, that he is ‘clearing the decks’ to speed up development assessments is good news says the Urban Taskforce.


“Planning approvals have been dropping fast across Sydney with a 59 percent drop in the City of Sydney for housing approvals over the last two years.” Says Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson “It is therefore good news that Planning Minister Stokes is now talking the language of ‘clearing the decks’ to speed up planning determinations across Metropolitan Sydney.”


“The Urban Taskforce has been very concerned that the language from the NSW Department of Planning on the Star Proposal in Pyrmont has been overly negative and that the Independent Planning Commission’s report on St Leonards South has been even more negative despite the proposal coming from the local council. From the development industry perspective the messages from the planning portfolio have been more about stopping development than supporting it. This includes the Greater Sydney Commission’s proposal to eliminate spot rezoning where significant local infrastructure funds can be raised.”


“While we are encouraged by the Minister’s statements about resolving the piling up of planning applications and of proposals that have ‘been locked in the planning system for too long’ we are also concerned that the culture of planners in government and councils will not change over-night. The Urban Taskforce remembers similar statement in mid 2017 to ‘clear the decks’ to speed up housing approvals when the Housing Delivery Team was established under Director Jackie Bishop. Within six months the team was disbanded and despite a number of positive meetings the planning culture did not change in the Department.”


“If Minister Stokes is serious about clearing blockages in the planning system he will need to get his Planning Department to establish a SWOT Squad to cut through the normal planning malaise of requiring more and more reports by so called independent experts that delay the process. The end result of the slow complex planning process is that more and more projects are ending up in the Land and Environment Court which is under resourced to handle the load.”


“The Urban Taskforce is keen to meet with the Minister of Planning and the Secretary of Planning, Industry and Environment to discuss ways to fast track the assessment of key projects.”

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