Sydney’s population is expected to grow to 8.5 million by 2050.

28 November 2013 — Planning reform in NSW has been put in limbo as the NSW government today [Thursday] refused to vote on Upper House amendments to its new planning bill, giving itself until next year to decide whether to accept the amendments, go back to the drawing board or keep the existing planning system.

Planning Minister Brad Hazzard said in a media release that an “unholy alliance” of Labor, the Greens, and the Shooters and Fishers Party had put at risk his government’s plan to return local planning powers to communities, provide a framework that is corruption resistant and provide housing and jobs.

“Two and a half years of community consultation across NSW has been destroyed by two and a half days of legislative vandalism,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Through its amendments Labor has destroyed much of the new planning framework and the Government will now consider its position before Parliament resumes in 2014 in its determination to make NSW number one again.”

Yesterday major amendments passed the Upper House, causing a flurry of indignant responses to hit The Fifth Estate inbox from all sides of the debate.

Amendments included the removal of the controversial Code Assessment track, which would have removed community object rights; an affordable housing levy being included; and the repeal of the mining state environmental planning policy provisions, which would have seen the economic considerations for mining projects trump environmental and social concerns.

The Better Planning Network, which has been vocally opposed to the government’s planning bill, said that despite significant amendments it was pleased with, the legislation was still flawed and it was “a black day for communities”.

“Despite the significant amendments achieved over the past two days, this legislation is still unfit for the 21st century,” said BPN’s Corinne Fisher.

“We had hoped that the Labor and Shooters and Fishers Parties could see that amendments alone will not fix this bad law, but both parties eventually gave it their approval. They have missed the opportunity for visionary planning reform.”

BPN has repeatedly called for the Government to go back to the drawing board on planning reform.

The NSW Urban Taskforce called for the planning bill to be scrapped, too, but because it had been severely watered down.

“The final form of the Planning Bill bears little relation to the well thought out White Paper that the Government proposed only six months ago,” said Urban Taskforce chief executive Chris Johnson. “We now have a document authored by many hands but not owned by any one of them.”

He said code assessment had gone, but upfront participation of the community still remained. He was also upset at the affordable housing levy, which he said would increase the cost of housing.

A “NIMBY” attitude taken by community groups had set the state back many years, Mr Johnson said.

Speaking to The Fifth Estate, Mr Johnson said he was staggered the Greens were able to take the line of the planning bill being pro-development and anti-community.

Greens spokesperson David Shoebridge said that even amended the bills left communities and the environment on the sideline.

“Though this bill has been substantially amended, its essential pro-developer characteristics remain and it takes planning backwards in NSW,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“The continued failure to make ecologically sustainable development the principle object of this bill sets it up to fail the environment from day one.”

However, Mr Johnson said the original planning bill would have made infill development and increasing density more viable, something green groups should be behind if they’re serious about tackling urban sprawl thanks to a growing population.

“Sydney needs over 32,000 new homes every year and we are only producing 21,000 now,” he said in a statement. “The Planning Act needs to encourage more housing but groups like the Greens call this being ‘pro-developer’ and imply this is bad.”

He said that planning reform should have been preceded and framed by a conversation about how we were going to manage the large projected population increases of Sydney.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data released this week stated that the Australian population was going to double more quickly than expected, with Sydney’s population expected to increase to 8.5 million within 50 years.

7 replies on “NSW Planning reforms: pack up and go home now, it’s a disaster, all agree”

  1. If we — the NSW communities — are to be consulted on new or revised bills, can the Government please respect established protocols: NO COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT BETWEEN EARLY DECEMBER AND EARLY FEBRUARY. Local government cannot handle it at that time and, basically, most folk are on holidays.

    So if the Government now wants to model leading practice in community engagement, the first step is to add at least three months to the current proposed community engagement period. That will also build community confidence that the engagement will be authentic and that people’s views will be taken into account.

  2. Many people can accept high rise residential development in the heart of Sydney but object to the low density suburbs being transformed into a continuum of high rise. This is what is proposed for North Ryde with one of the Urban Activation Precincts having stolen and rezoned what was employment land proposed for the future job market of North Ryde and surrounds. Another UAP at Macquarie and Epping.

    The community questions the artificially inflated population of Sydney being facilitated by the high rise residential developers selling the majority of their dwellings to foreign investors.

    “Have your say” rings very hollow, Mr Hazzard, as it amounts to nothing. The people have not been listened to; their comments/advice are not taken into account. A few metres off here and there of a 33 storey tower; substituted somewhere else cannot be described as taking account of community opinion. This looks like “bullying” to the people of NSW.

  3. It seems that Mr Hazzard has repeated himself so often that he has begun to believe it all himself. How is it he has returned planning to the people when he has introduced spot rezoning with the smart name of “Strategic compatibility certificates” that enable a developer to change the zoning and build to his liking and not that of the locals.

    Contrary to Mr Hazzard the ICAC has indicated that the Planning Bills are more open to a risk of corruption. As for providing more housing and jobs that appears to be a “closed shop” with most of the work going to the high rise developers who sell the majority of their dwellings off the plan to foreign investors thus creating a cycle of housing shortage. Many of those home builders in the building trade are scratching an income as maintenance men; no longer enjoying the satisfaction of building homes, duplex or townhouses. The ABS has revealed that the Australian population is going to double more quickly than expected. This will be met with a big decline in the quality of life in Aus as the infrastructure is not there to meet the demands of 8.5 million in Sydney. Obviously this is what happens when property is sold overseas. The NSW Govt. was very sensitive during the debate when the matter of seeping sewerage in the Georges River area was raised. In fact this is occurring all over Sydney; schools are at or over capacity; contrary to Mr Hazzard and Mr Johnson housing has become more unaffordable with a cost of $500,000 for a 1-bedroom apartment in the inner ring plus lift and strata levies often rising by thousands as the years roll by. Common sense would dicatate the Planning Bills be thrown out.

  4. Mr Johnson
    Every architect should be very afraid and oppose any legislated developer ideas for the built environment. The people of NSW have shown they don’t want a developers world as promoted by your organization. Lets hope the NSW Government, even if you organization cannot accept public opinion, begins to realize that this legislation is a dud and spends more time stopping greedy spot rezoning proposals by your members.

  5. This planning paper still does not go far enough for heritage, or the acquistion of property, the destruction of iconic history in this state is causing extreme angst, the people in their communities are having to fight for their very lives.I have never seen it so bad for the community of NSW, thousands of people, ordinary people, are fighting for their very lives, people are losing their homes, they are fighting for their heritage, they are fighting for their rights. I am afraid there is one common thread that binds the community and that is the Administration of Local and State Government and that is the lack of consultation, the dictatorship, the greed, no compassion and no common sense. The community has only one weapon of choice, that will come in 15 months. By that time, with the work of community groups, there will be a common thread that will be spread over an ever widening area of NSW.

    Members were put there to represent us, look after our needs, voice our thoughts, keep our communities viable and friendly, we should not have to fight for our very lives, our heritage or our communities, most of us are tired and sick, some of us are too busy, we could be doing other things for the communty, like education, history, telling stories. But this all has to take a back seat while we fight on the war front. You only have to look around at social media to see the rage, the problems and the angst in the community, that is what is in Facebook, very few people are enjoying life, most people are fighting for that very life.
    Revoke these planning laws now, put in place something that is fair, transparent and true to the communities that the politicians are elected to serve.

  6. We need a NSW Planning Bill that takes us forwards not backwards, that aids GOOD development and community engagement and not just “development”. The community will not be sorry that the present incarnation failed. I’m now hoping that the Christmas break will bring some clear thinking and real vision to our Planning Minister.

  7. The koalas should be very nervous.
    The O’Farrell governmnet will be wanting to do a deal with the Shooters & Fishers to get these Bills through.
    Maybe allowing them sme more access to shoot in national parks etc will be the key?

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