The appointment of Peter Achterstraat as NSW Productivity Commissioner is an excellent appointment and his first focus should be the NSW planning system, says the Urban Taskforce.
“The appointment of Peter Achterstraat as NSW Productivity Commissioner opens the way to drive economic reform of the planning system in NSW,” says Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson. “Former Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Glenn Stevens, in a report to the NSW Government a year ago on housing affordability, raised a number of areas that could be improved in the planning system. In particular he said ‘the length of time taken for rezoning and development approval is much too long’ and he went on to say that these are things that are in our power to change.”
“A more recent report by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) found that inflexible zoning in Sydney had added $485,000 to the cost of an average home. Clearly the Stevens report and the RBA study show that the NSW planning system can be made more productive.”
“Many members of the Urban Taskforce who are developing projects along the Eastern Seaboard are finding that the planning system is more efficient in Victoria and in Queensland. In Victoria the state government seems to take a stronger role in assessing major projects and in Queensland large councils like Brisbane City seem to be more supportive of new development than Sydney councils.”
“The complex NSW planning system has multiple government players involved including the Department of Planning, government agencies, local government and the Greater Sydney Commission. A productivity review of the interplay of the various NSW agencies and levels of government should be undertaken and this should be compared with the approach taken in Victoria and Queensland.”
“The four core themes for the Commissioner to focus on include, making it easier to do business, lowering the cost of living, making housing more affordable and making NSW the easiest state to move to. These are all issues affected by the NSW planning system. The Urban Taskforce believes that a simpler planning system will make doing business easier and lead to more affordable housing which will lower living costs and encourage people to move to NSW.”
The Urban Taskforce is keen to work with Peter Achterstraat and his team to find some quick wins that would translate to making housing affordability better in NSW and particularly in Greater Sydney.