Reform may be needed sooner than 18 months

2 August 2011

Planning review welcome, but reform may be needed sooner rather than later

The launch of a comprehensive review of the NSW planning system is welcome, but serious problems with the status-quo are likely to emerge before this review is complete, according to the Urban Taskforce. The NSW Government has released details of its 18 month review, including naming former ministers Tim Moore and Ron Dyer as co-chairs of a review panel.

The Urban Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said the planning system had been radically re-shaped in the last 100 days.

Weve seen Part 3A repealed, and the role and independence of regional decision-making panels reduced, Mr Gadiel said.

The power of NIMBYs – the not-in-my-backyard brigade – is stronger than ever before.

Mr Gadiel said the NSW planning system had been driving investment away from NSW.

NSW already approves less new homes, per person, than any other state or territory, he said.

The state suffers from a shortage of retail areas, which has meant longer travel times and increased congestion.

Inflexible rules on new business premises deprive communities of local jobs.

Mr Gadiel said that there is an urgent need to cut through bureaucracy and local politicking.

The state may not be able to wait another 18 months for essential reforms, he said.

We urge the government to monitor the current situation closely.

If new private investment in our cities begins to dry up, there may be a need to bring forward some changes.

Mr Gadiel said priority reforms should include:

¢ appeal rights for rezoning applicants;

¢ more flexibility for individual development proposals to be assessed on their own merits, rather than through rigid pre-determined local council controls;

¢ requiring planning authorities to consider the financial constraints on the economic viability of desirable development;

¢ timely decision-making enforced by a mandatory development assessment and rezoning timetable;

¢ significantly reduced development levies; and

¢ a better decision-making process – at arms-length from parochial politics – when a key reason for a development is to service the needs of people who arent currently locals.

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

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