The New South Wales Greens Party has raised concerns that new laws currently under development in the state will give too much power to property developers.
According to a report earlier this week in the Australian Associated Press, New South Wales Planning Minister Brad Hazzard has touted a revolutionary overhaul of the state’s 33-year-old planning legislation, set to take place within weeks.
Hazzard told Fairfax earlier this week the overhaul would end uncertainty faced by developers who buy land not knowing if their plans will be approved when they submit development applications.
The report also says the new laws will prevent complaints from individual residents from blocking or modifying proposed new developments.
Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge says the overhaul would give developers a ‘free hand’.
“If made law, these changes will deliver Sydney and NSW directly into the hands of the development industry,” Shoebridge says, adding that the new laws would represent a return to the ‘bad old days’ of the 1960s and 70s, an era in which he says a lot of what was precious in the state was bulldozed for ‘ugly and inappropriate’ development.
Shoebridge says the idea that people could be seriously affected by a major development without the right to comment on a proposal is shocking and appalling.
“Anyone with any experience in planning knows that communities only seriously engage with development once a specific proposal is on the books,” Shoebridge says. “No amount of wishful thinking will change this.”
Shoebridge’s concerns are shared by Nature Conservation Council of NSW CEO Pepe Clarke, who says communities will no longer be able to object to development applications after consultations and that the government is reneging on promises to hand back planning power to communities.
“How can people know years in advance exactly what will be affected by a particular development and how it might affect the environment or their local area?” Clarke says.
Housing and property industry associations have for years called for planning reforms in the state, complaining that an overly complex planning and approval system is hampering investment and contributing to a shortage of housing throughout the state.