NSW Planning System going backwards – fast

The NSW planning system is dragging down the economic performance of the entire nation according to new figures released by the ABS today.

While Victoria has been in lockdown, Victoria has seen their total dwellings approved grow by 1.8% in the month of August, with total approvals in the month being 5181. In stark contrast, NSW has been relatively free of COVID-19 restrictions, but the number of approvals actually fell by a massive 14.2% in the month of August to a total of only 3364 new dwelling approvals.

The NSW Budget comes down on November 9. Urban Taskforce calls on the NSW Productivity Commission to urgently complete its review of the NSW Planning System and also complete its review of Infrastructure Contributions framework. The changes recommended by the NSW Productivity Commission must be included in the NSW Budget Bills so industry can have certainty on the framework for taxes, levies and charges.

The NSW government have been talking about planning reform since November last year when the Premier declared it the number 1 policy priority for 2020.

There has been no reform to the planning system apart from some welcome COVID-tweaks.

Over the past two years, the focus of planning in NSW has shifted with the lead being given to Councils and independent panels in driving strategic plans and DA approvals. The State Government has handed control over planning decisions to local Councils. In the context of COVID-19, this has proven to be a disaster. Councils are now looking towards their own elections in twelve months’ time and this is a proven recipe for NIMBY pressure groups to strangle economic growth. This can not be allowed to happen.

The State Government did a good job to fast-track planning approvals for shovel ready projects and this kept the numbers up for a while – but the last of those tranches of approvals is now in and the stark reality of the NSW planning system has been laid bare.

The planning system is in NSW is slow, cumbersome, risky and expensive. The NSW Productivity Commission. The Commonwealth Productivity Commission and the Reserve Bank of Australia have all called for significant reform.

How can it be that the Victorian planning system so comprehensively out-performs NSW when they are in the middle of a health crisis with full level 4 lockdowns?

The Western Australian and Queensland planning systems are propping up the nation at present. Victoria is holding on, while the nations’ largest economy (NSW) is falling backwards – fast.

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