The NSW Planning System needs can do planners as well as a new planning act

6 December 2011

The Urban Taskforce congratulates Ron Dyer and Tim Moore on their extensive and thorough Issues Paper on the NSW planning system.

 While most of the key issues are now on the table, one critical omission is the culture of the planners who will ultimately operate a new planning act.


The Planning Institutes own submission to the review raised the issue of the risk adverse culture in NSW that was slowing down approvals said Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson.


We get countless stories from our members of long delays from Council Planners who are worried they may be seen to be supporting development that some members of the community may not want.


In their letter to Minister Hazzard the reviewers talk about the economic importance to the State of eliminating unnecessary delay and costs in the planning system.


There are questions in the Issues Paper about who should decide planning applications, including Councillors, Panels or Joint Regional Planning Panels but all of these ultimate decision making bodies rely on planning staff to write up recommendations and to liaise with applicants, Mr Johnson said.


The community may expect the development industry to raise concern about the planners who operate the system; but when the planners own industry body, The Planning Institute of Australia, submits a detailed submission to the review about the need to improve the culture of its own members, we believe this must now be a critical part of the governments action plan to achieve a better planning system in NSW, he said.


 The Planning Institute suggests a number of ways to improve the culture of planning including having a positive attitude to change and a can do attitude, says Chris Johnson. They also call for recognition of the bigger picture and a call for courageous leaders and champions.


Clearly the culture around planners is influenced by Councillors and community groups as well as the way the planning system is conveyed in the media. We all need to work towards a better environment for planning in NSW and that includes government, developers, the community and the planners themselves.


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

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