A complete overhaul of the planning and approval system in New South Wales has won praise from the state’s property development and construction industry.
Chris Johnson, chief executive officer of the Urban Taskforce, a property development industry group, says a new green paper released last week by New South Wales Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard delivers on each of the 10 key ideas the group listed in its submission for better planning in the state.
“We congratulate the government and Minister Hazzard in particular, for the clarity and appropriateness of the 23 key proposals,” Johnson says.
Titled A New Planning System for New South Wales, the paper sets out a number of proposals to reform the planning and approval system in the state.
It proposes 23 ‘transformative changes’ designed to move from a heavily regulated and prescriptive system to one which is simpler, more transparent, fairer and more in line with strategic planning objectives.
Its key aims revolve around increasing community involvement in town planning, reducing red tape and speeding up the assessment of development applications, ensuring infrastructure is appropriate and sufficient to support new and existing communities, creating a ‘can do’ culture in the planning system and ensuring that councils and governments are accountable for delivering results.
Johnson commends the paper for its focus on growth, simpler approvals and community involvement.
“Community involvement is appropriate at the early stage of determining the character of areas where growth should occur,” he says. “This will require new techniques in involvement and the visualisation of future environmental characters.”
Johnson says another important proposal is to de-politicise the assessment process by having independent panels tackle this role. He says having Joint Regional Planning Boards, preferably with their own staff, and independent panels for smaller projects should lead to greater certainty and faster decision making.
The changes come in the context of efforts by the New South Wales government to stimulate growth in the state’s property development and construction industry, which is suffering from negligible growth in activity and a shrinking pipeline of building projects.
Many industry participants in recent years have blamed a complex planning and approval system for holding back development projects in the state.