Planning Minister Brad Hazzard

22 October 2013 — NSW planning reform is a step closer to being realised with the Planning Bill 2013 today [22 October] being introduced to parliament.

The move was welcomed by industry groups, including the Urban Development Institute of Australia and the Urban Taskforce.

“We’ve had our concerns about the amendments as there has been a lot of misinformation flying around about the impacts of the formerly proposed reforms,” UDIA NSW chief executive Stephen Albin said.

“But what it comes down to at the end of the day is that the community is satisfied and the industry that contributes more than $24.5 billion to the NSW economy each year doesn’t suffer.

“It’s also crucial that the State can adequately cater to a projected 9.2 million more people in NSW over the next 20 years through the delivery of much-needed infrastructure and housing.

“The introduction of the new Planning Act will certainly help streamline that.”

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Urban Taskforce chief executive Chris Johnson said the new planning bill could set the platform to ensure NSW’s future prosperity.

However, he was concerned with changes to the draft legislation made to appease community groups and some commentators vocally opposing the reforms.

“The most important feature is the incorporation of the ‘Code Assessable’ method of determining development proposals that is so popular in Queensland,” he said.

“The use of codes gives certainty to all parties so that communities understand what the potential for development is while the development industry understands what the community is happy with.

“The Urban Taskforce is disappointed that the Code Assessable and Complying Code approaches have been cut back to acknowledge the concerns of some in the community.”

The Better Planning Network, which comprises some 427 community groups, has vocally opposed the proposed reforms.

It has continually pushed for the bills to be withdrawn and rewritten.

Today, BPN convenor Corinne Fisher said of the revised bills: “The BPN has previously welcomed the decision not to enforce an 80 per cent level of code assessment and is pleased to see that some checks and balances will be applied to what the Independent Commission Against Corruption termed the ‘largely unfettered’ powers of the Minister.

“However, as always, the devil is in the detail and the BPN hopes that there will be ample time for the public to study the amended Planning Bills and to make comments.”

According to a BPN media release, the group has been excluded by NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard from a series of briefings on the revised planning bills.