Planning Rules in Sydney Must Reflect Current Needs And Not Be Out Of Date

The recent statements by NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes that he wants to eliminate planning proposals that change council Local Environmental Plans misunderstands the need for council plans to respond to government initiatives, says the Urban Taskforce.


“A global city like Sydney is changing fast, as population numbers increase, new airports and metro rail routes are announced, and as many people swing to apartment living.” says Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson. “But councils can take decades to update their local plans and they often do not want to acknowledge state government policies. When he was previously NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes announced a new policy to review the process of rezoning by requiring a Strategic Merit Test which demonstrated that a planning proposal was consistent with a raft of state government Region, District, Corridor and Precinct Plans that reflected current thinking on planning. The development industry has followed these rules and made proposals that conform to the government’s more current rules over the often decade old council planning rules.”


“It seems the Minister now wants to only rely on the council planning rules – but many councils, like Parramatta, also want the flexibility to rezone whole precincts ahead of updating their formal plans. The reason the City of Parramatta Council encourages planning proposals and rezoning’s, is that the State Government has announced Parramatta as the second city and they therefore need more infrastructure. The best way to get more funding for infrastructure is to negotiate funds from developers if they are given more floor space in the city centre. In this case, and many others, it is the council driving the rezoning process, not the developers.”


“The NSW planning system has a reputation of being slower and more complicated than others in Australia. The Minister’s proposal to eliminate rezoning will only slow development down further.”


“In his review of housing affordability for the NSW Premier in May 2017, former Reserve Bank of Australia Governor, Glenn Stevens, raised significant concerns about the slowness of the planning system in NSW relative to the speed of changes in the market. He said ‘we need to have the supply side able to respond to demand in a more elastic way’. A planning system that waits for 5 years to update where private sector investors should look to buy land for new housing will slow down the planning system and the supply of housing even more.”


“The growing preference by many Sydney people to live in apartments has changed the planning dynamics. As many communities complain about insufficient infrastructure the potential for this to be provided by a rezoning process through voluntary planning agreements has been supported by many councils. This can raise as much as $100 million for infrastructure on one project. The NSW Government would have to fund this extra infrastructure from its own budget if the rezoning process was scrapped, as the Planning Minister seems to prefer.


“The Urban Taskforce is keen to work with the NSW Government and the Planning Minister to ensure the planning system is efficient and delivers quality outcomes. The developers of new property must be part of the planning system in a manner that ensures they can economically deliver projects in a timely manner.”


Read Full PDF Here