Planning minister Brad Hazzard

19 June 2013 — Industry bodies have welcomed news of increased funding for the NSW government’s new planning system, though community groups have voiced concern about the limited amount available for community engagement.

The budget allocated $20.9 million to implement the state’s new planning system in 2013-14, with up to $3 million of it to “build a new culture of community participation”.

“For too long, local communities have been sidelined in the really important decisions about the future of their neighbourhoods, suburbs and regions,”  planning minister Brad Hazzard said.

“Communities will work with councils and state agencies to create a shared vision for the housing, jobs and infrastructure in their regions with upfront strategic planning.”

The Planning Institute of Australia said the funding was “a strong sign that the Government is taking planning reform seriously”.

PIA NSW president Sarah Hill said the group was particularly pleased to see specific reference to consultation and culture.

“These are the cornerstones for successful implementation of the new system,” she said. “We need to bring the community with us on this journey with real and open engagement.”

“PIA has advocated for an acknowledgement of the critical role that changing the culture of planning will play in a new planning system, and the 2013-14 budget allocations will go some way to this.”

“It is an exciting time to be a planner in NSW and we look forward to the hard work which is to come in making the new system a positive for NSW.”

Urban Taskforce chief executive officer Chris Johnson also thought the news was positive, but said that community groups had been “negative”.

“While we support the involvement of communities in the strategic phase of planning this needs to be done with a full understanding of the need to manage growth and change,” he said.

“Our perception has been that many community groups are against development. The allocation of $3 million for community engagement and cultural change needs to help raise community awareness about the need to manage growth and to therefore avoid individual project fights.

“The community engagement process should look at improving the communities understanding of developers and explain their role as providers of jobs and housing. The overly negative attitude of some community groups, including the Greens, to the development industry needs to be modified by more interaction between the groups.”

Better Planning Network convenor Corinne Fisher said that Mr Johnson’s comments about community group negativity reflected a misunderstanding of community concern about the proposed changes.

“It also shows that he is underestimating the importance of community acceptance to the long-term success of the government’s reforms,” she said.

“If Chris wants to do a good job of representing UT interests in the long-term, he may well have to start listening to and attempting to address community concerns, rather than continuing to portray these concerns as ‘negative’”.

Ms Fisher said that the funding for community participation was inadequate.

“The allocation of $3 million for community engagement and cultural change is a drop in the ocean,” she said. “Even if that money went straight to the local councils for preparation of the new local plans and engagement of the community in that process, it would be no more than $19,736 per council – hardly adequate.”

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  1. This whole NSW planning reform process is a sham.

    It is becoming clearer the White Paper is a Plan written by the development industry for the development industry!

    The Plan will be ultimately be seen for what it is and be rejected by the wider NSW community.

    Thanks to the Better Planning Network for exposing the spin doctoring and inconsistencies in the state government’s the Plan.

  2. Dear Mr Hazzard,

    I feel it is unjustified to label community groups as negative.
    With that comment you generalise, discredit, close doors and promote negatively about community groups.
    Please don’t do that.
    I live in a suburb of Sydney and have been introduced to local groups who genuinely done their best for many years. You would know from experience that any group is diverse and that no two people really agree on everything.
    I am a newcomer to these local groups and I thank those involved for their hard work over many years they have been hard working caretakers of my area.
    I come to these groups having had the honour of meeting great people in my life from other areas. Innovative thinkers, caring and brave. People from mixed cultures Aboriginal leaders who have gone far too young due to diseases who are not here now as wise contributors to change.
    I am the daughter of two parents who were Officers in Australia’s Army during WW11 who thought their involvement would ensure a safe, quality life for their families and this country.
    My mother lived to 100 and cried every year for the young men who did not come home. My father shot himself eventually as he never recovered after New Guinea.
    I am a mother too and I feel I have a duty to make wise decisions as they will impact on the future of my family, other families and this country.
    I want you to be a mature, knowledgeable and well balanced leader in your role in government.
    Please don’t close the doors on community groups. You will discover a wealth of experienced and valuable people who will work hard to make sure that our decisions are the best we can make for this country’s future.
    Jane Buchan

  3. Despite the confident words that communities will not be ignored the result of these new laws will be a complete dumbing down of all community consultation to the point that the ‘one size fits all’ approach destroys local character and ignores ESD. Additionally, the opportunities for collusion and corruption are huge with almost no controls to prevent it. The ICAC submission has been ignored.

  4. Dear Editor — In opposition, Barry O’Farrell was very big with promises that he’d “put people back into planning” What’s being proposed is the EXACT opposite – no notifications so no chance to have a say, no right to comment or object, and no right of appeal to Court unless you’re a developer or it’s on very narrow points of law.
    And as for Part 3-a – all he’s done is double it, so now we get Part 4 and Part 5 that give the Minister god-like “discretion” to deem anything – and all he has to do is say it’s for “economic growth”. Nothing about people, or social amenity, or open space. It’s a farce – and a BIG BAD BROKEN PROMISE.
    Is it any wonder that communities are apprehensive and getting more “negative” as we realise the full ramifications. The interaction of other changes make them even worse – the Metro Strategy, and esp the new Land Acquisition Act that lets the govt “acquire” your land and then ON-SELL it to developers including at a profit – and you’re left with no appeal, no extra compensation. Add that kind of legal rort to Planning laws that say the Minister can over-ride any Local Plan just by declaring regulations – it’s scarey.
    As Corinne Fisher says – we’re not against change, or development – but we want to HAVE A SAY. And that’s what these laws strip away.
    People want to have input about where they live – and when it counts – as-it-happens. Not about some vague “strategy” stuff years ahead, with plans so vague they haven’t got a clue about specifics. Ask the Dept to define “upfront” – they can’t. And then ask the Dept about how they’re going to MANAGE the admin schemozzle they’re unleashing with this “Change”. Right now they don’t have a clue about what’s going to be needed for transitions. Ask them (I have) and you just get buzzwords and “trust us”.
    As it’s happening now, the whole process is a con. And sure, the Premier might be able to railroad these changes through Parliament – but in my opinion, they’ll be the O’Farrell WORK CHOICES.

    Please feel free to contact me if you want more detailed information on why the proposed changes are a fiasco, especially re HERITAGE. I live in Haberfield – not just “State” or local interest – it’s got international significance as the WORLD’S first-ever Garden Suburb dating from 1901 – and in 1904 there was town planning here for the motor car – 20years ahead of Chicago or anywhere else. In fact, Richard Stanton, the founder of Haberfield, had car licence NSW 73 – and I’ve got a photo of that numberplate on his car.

    This major heritage. Yet the whole Haberfield Conservation Area gets obliterated in the Parramatta Rd City-Shaper sweep. It’ll be developer heaven, 9kms from Sydney CBD
    Thank you – EMMA