Major project approval system vital to large residential, retail and commercial development

01 February 2011

A NSW Government report released today highlights the importance of a major project approval system for large residential, retail and commercial development, according to the Urban Taskforce. The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said that the Major Development Monitor 2009-10 highlighted the 48 retail, commercial and residential applications dealt with under Part 3A of the states planning laws.


This added up to $1.4 billion of new capital investment and 10,000 ongoing jobs, Mr Gadiel said.


NSW is a difficult place to develop, with much of the planning system bogged down in arcane procedure and red tape.


The major project approval regime, commonly known as ˜Part 3A, is the most functional part of the planning system.


Mr Gadiel said that no Australian state builds less new homes per head of population than NSW.


Sydneys per capita housing supply has halved since 2003, he said.


Our housing supply, per head of population is less than half of Victorias or Western Australias.


Melbourne builds more apartments and town houses than Sydney.


Even Queensland produces more high density homes on a per capita basis.


Both states leave NSW for dead on detached housing numbers.


Over the last five years, NSW, together with South Australia, has suffered the lowest rate of job growth of the mainland states.


Without access to a major project approval stream, these figures would be much worse for NSW.


Mr Gadiel said that, from day one the states planning laws have had a streamlined approval process for regionally significant projects.


Local councils have always faced the possibility that the state government might step in and assume planning responsibility for important development, he said.


The main thing thats happened in the last 30 years is that the use of ministerial call-in powers has become more transparent and red tape has been cut by giving the Department of Planning more authority over other state government agencies.


Mr Gadiel said that other Australian states also maintained approvals systems for regionally significant development projects.


For example, in Victoria, the Planning Minister deals with ˜priority development projects, he said.


These include projects that might be complex, substantial in scale, be a large mixed use development, implement state government strategies or take place in key areas.


Mr Gadiel said that the Queensland governments Urban Land Development Authority assumes the planning powers of local government and some state agencies in declared ˜urban development areas.


No government should consider removing Part 3A without introducing alternative arrangements for regionally significant development, he said.


As in Victoria and Queensland this will need to include large urban development.


It is inconceivable that any government would want to wash its hands of projects important to either the state, or a region within it.


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.


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