This reform of the planning system is a once in a generation opportunity to bring about genuine change and deliver a planning system that can strengthen a revival of the NSW economy and deliver the housing, jobs and communities to support NSW’s growing population. Additionally, it has the potential to bring about opportunities for generational equity going forward.
There are a number of elements of the new planning system that have the potential to improve planning in NSW. In particular, the objectives of the new scheme now place greater emphasis on balanced economic growth, a culture of delivery and improved community engagement in strategic planning.
However much of the detail proposed by the new planning system is not known or at least it has not been outlined in the White Paper.
In our submission, TPG highlighted a few areas of concern, which may hinder the attainment of certain critical objectives of the new planning system.
Landowners, developers and the broader community would most certainly welcome this kind of cultural change, as it would provide greater certainty over planning outcomes.
However, while a Culture Change Action Group has been proposed to oversee implementation of this objective across the industry, at present the explicit terms of action for this group level has not been made transparent.
TPG has recommended a process whereby the current cultural issues are identified, as are the appropriate attitudes and culture for facilitating desired outcomes across all sectors of planning. A performance monitoring system whereby organisations and government departments can be held accountable has also been suggested by TPG.
The inclusion of a Community Participation Charter in the White Paper is a positive step to bring about genuine community engagement in strategic planning. With strategic planning objectives and controls identified early in the planning process, approval processes should be streamlined, providing more certainty to all involved.
However the success of this Charter relies on the consistency and delivery of the local Community Participation Plans A major challenge for the new planning system is how Local Councils will effectively engage the community in a balanced and representative way and assumes the community will have a greater understanding of strategic planning goals. This has resourcing and funding implications for Government.
Additionally the magnitude of consultation processes required over the next few years may delay the development of the Subregional Delivery Plans and Local Plans, hindering the objectives of the new planning system to be achieved.
The White Paper proposes the establishment of the five (5) different risk-based assessment tracks for development assessment to provide more certainty for applicants, who would be able to fast-track a compliant development application or would not be required to obtain approval for minor proposals in the first instance.It is understood that the categorisation of the tracks will be much dependent on the detail of the Subregional Delivery Plans, Local Plans and Development Guides.
Further consideration needs to be given to the consistent application and terms of the various categories across all LGAs. To facilitate this, it is vital that a consistent approach be taken across all LGAs in the development of Subregional Delivery Plans, Local Plans and Development Guides.
NSW needs a world-class planning system that helps drive economic activity in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. The White Paper and draft legislation provides an encouraging foundation for change, and TPG will continue working closely with the NSW Government to support the implementation of an effective planning system for the state.
While the opportunity to make a submission to the White Paper concluded on 28 June 2013, the Department of Planning and Infrastructure is still seeking feedback to assist with next steps including education and training. You can participate in the Department's training needs survey by clicking here.
TPG has always been understanding of our requirements as a fast growing company and has always been willing to assist us in any way they can to better understand and develop our processes across a variety of challenging situations and circumstances. This helps us achieve favourable results and a positive experience for our Franchisees. TPG’s professional approach, product knowledge and willingness to understand our industry makes them a pleasure to deal with and they are an integral part of our business. We would have no hesitation in recommending their services to anyone considering engaging the services of a Town Planner.John Fuller