Minister for Planning stops plans for more red tape

Urban Taskforce CEO Tom Forrest welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Planning and Homes, Hon Anthony Roberts, that the draft Design and Place SEPP would not proceed.  Mr Roberts was speaking at an industry lunch organised by the Urban Taskforce.

“The decision not to proceed with the draft SEPP is a clear sign that the new Minister for Planning is serious about cutting red tape and driving efficiency through the NSW planning process.  The draft Design and Place SEPP was placed on public exhibition and drew unanimous criticism from industry.  The Minister has listened and acted.  This is great news for housing supply and for affordability.

“The changes proposed in the draft SEPP for the Apartment Design Guide and the new Urban Design guide would have added to the cost of delivery of new homes without improving the design quality of those new homes. Today’s decision is in line with the recommendations of the NSW Productivity Commission White Paper which called for faster approval times and reductions in planning red tape.

“Urban Taskforce welcomes the decision to excise the BASIX environmental component from the draft Design and Place SEPP and to proceed with these important sustainability improvements, as planned, later in the year.

“This is a sensible compromise which will deliver on the government’s commitment to sustainability and to achieve “net zero greenhouse gas emissions” by 2050, while removing the highly prescriptive elements on design that were in the proposed new Apartment Design Guide and Urban Design Guides”, Mr Forrest said.

The Minister announced that the Apartment Design Guidelines and SEPP 65 will remain in place as they currently stand.

“Urban Taskforce members welcome the Minister’s decision to limit the design review process to only one meeting.

“One of the greatest constraints on the efficiency of the planning system has been the current system of design review, often involving multiple meetings and lengthy delay.  Each iteration of the design review process can take months to convene, often resulting in debate on matters of subjective opinion and contributing little if anything to the final result”, Mr Forrest said.

Minister Roberts explained that applicants can choose to incorporate the feedback from the panel, or explain their reasons for not adopting the panel’s recommendations.  This will stop the process of multiple meetings, multiple changes to the design and associated multiple iterations of expensive consultant reports.  The assessing planner will consider the application in light of the design review report.  Ultimately, the decision will be made by independent panels.

Mr Forrest acknowledged that in some cases, the design review teams do add value.

“In these cases, the applicant can choose to request more than one meeting to resolve outstanding matters.  This is a sensible approach”, Mr Forrest said.