7 May 2013 — NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard has released a “message from the minister” in an attempt to combat growing community unease around planning reforms.
The release says the government does not accept the line of “naysayers” who suggest community will not engage at the strategic planning stage.
“The Coalition Government has faith in the community’s desire and ability to collaborate with their councils upfront,” Mr Hazzard said.
Better Planning Network’s Corrine Fisher recently told The Fifth Estate that involving community at this stage sounded good in theory, though the reality was that people have busy lives and don’t tend to get involved until the issues are on the doorstop.
Responding to the idea that the reforms are a picnic for developers, Hazzard said, “If a picnic means that the industry has to operate within the rules and without unnecessary red tape, then that’s the sort of picnic everyone should welcome.
Suggestions that councils would be stripped of their planning powers were also dismissed. Hazzard stated councils would be required to undergo “cultural change” though it would result in them “being given more power”.
“Instead of acting predominantly in isolation, [councils] will need to work collaboratively with neighbouring councils,” he said. “Instead of being bogged down in assessing individual DAs they can better plan the strategic policies for their community.”
The reforms would see 80 per cent of development proposals fast-tracked and approved within 25 days. Councils that consistently fail to meet the new timeframes would be at risk of having to create a determinative independent hearing and assessment panel to replace councillors in development assessment decision making.
The White Paper is on public exhibition until June 28.