15 August 2013 — An independent survey of sentiment towards the NSW planning white paper has found support for reform has diminished among professionals involved in planning and individuals participating in the reform process.
A previous survey conducted by Jo Manion and Marketinfo after the release of the planning green paper in 2012 showed there was broad support for a new planning system and a more strategic approach to planning.
The results of their latest survey show that support has crumbled, and there is now widespread negativity regarding planning reform among surveyed planning professionals and people who have been participating in the reform process.
“The comparison between the results from the survey on the green paper and this survey… highlights a shift toward a more negative view by professionals on the reforms,” the survey report stated. “The release of the white paper has clearly not persuaded this group that the proposals represent an overall improvement on the current system.
“The majority of respondents believe that the new system will reduce protection for neighbourhoods, that it may not deliver the intended environmental or social benefits and that the new structures proposed may result in an increase rather than a reduction in duplication and waste.”
Property developers were seen as the clear winners of the reform.
“An overwhelming 92 per cent of respondents felt that the changes advantaged property developers, 80 per cent indicated that they disadvantaged local government and 88 per cent [indicated] that the changes disadvantaged neighbourhoods affected by development,” the report stated.
Other key findings included:
- 88 per cent of interested individuals and 66 per cent of professionals agreed that the environmental objectives are not captured well enough
- 94 per cent of interested individuals and 77 per cent of professionals disagreed that the new system will deliver significant environmental benefits
- 79 per cent of the group agreed that the social objectives are not captured well
- 90 per cent of interested individuals and 65 per cent of professionals disagrede that the changes support communities to maintain their desired character
- 93 per cent of interested individuals and 68 per cent of professionals disagreed that the Public Participation Charter will ensure that the views of the community will be reflected in planning
- 76 per cent of interested individuals and 62 per cent of professionals agreed that the Exposure Bills do not adequately support the proposed community participation plans
- 80 per cent of interested individual and 42 per cent of professionals disagreed that replacing local representatives with expert decision making bodies is a major strength of the new system
- 28 per cent of respondents agreed that including a leading objective about facilitating economic development is appropriate
- 45 per cent of professionals agreed that the new system will deliver significant economic benefits and 30 per cent did not
- 87 per cent of interested individuals and 60 per cent of professionals believed that the proposed changes do not provide improved protection for sites with heritage value
- 77 per cent of interested individuals and 58 per cent of professionals disagreed that a goal of 80 per cent of all development be assessed as complying of code assed is desirable
- 90 per cent of interested individual and 65 per cent of professionals agreed that the timeframes proposed for approval mean that councils will not be able to ensure proposals respond to local conditions
The survey had 191 respondents, comprising 80 professionals employed in planning and 111 individuals.
Most – 64 per cent – did not identify any group as representing their views, while the rest said their views aligned with a peak industry or lobby group, including the Urban Development Institute of Australia, Planning Institute of Australia, Urban Task Force, Local Government NSW, Australian Institute of Architecture and a number of local groups including the Better Planning Network.