13 February 2013 — [Comments open below] Just over 70 per cent of industry professionals agree that the NSW Government’s Green Paper’s planning framework does not provide well for social objectives.

Another 78 per cent felt the changes advantaged property developers, 49 per cent felt they disadvantaged local government and 51 per cent felt the changes disadvantaged members of the community.

The Independent Survey on the A New Planning System for NSW – Green Paper, by Jo Manion and Marketinfo, was released in September 2012.

The survey established a baseline measure of opinion among industry professionals, including town planners , project managers, lawyers and policy people, about the proposals in the Green Paper.

Jo Manion

“The results show clearly that further work is required to achieve a balance between the social, environmental and economic objectives which underpin the framework, “ the survey found.

“It is this imbalance in the objectives which appears to be the basis for assessment that the Green Paper overall advantages developers and disadvantages the community and local government.

“The new framework is largely silent on how social objectives will be achieved. While it places up front the establishment of a Public Participation Charter, a definitive statement on consultation does not address the need for articulation of social objectives.”

“Development contributions should include the construction cost and embellishment cost of local level community/cultural facilities and open space.  Don’t punish the local community so developers can make a bigger profit.  Community infrastructure is a key component of successful communities, not massive McMansions in unserviced greenfield estates.”- quote from the Survey.

A summary found:

  • A majority of 70 per cent of people agreed that replacing State Environmental Planning Policies and Section 117 Directions with a smaller number of polices will be an improvement.
  • 80 per cent agreed that the new polices must have legal standing.
  • 57 per cent agreed that a leading objective about facilitating economic development was appropriate.
  • Just over 70 per cent agreed that the framework did not capture the social objectives well.
  • 66 per cent agreed that the framework did not capture the environmental objectives well.
  • 73 per cent believed that maintaining public participation in development assessment was important.
  • 93 per cent agreed that involving local citizens in plan making would require new approaches.
  • Almost 40 per cent agreed that the changes proposed would reduce duplication and wasting of resources.
  • There was agreement that the proposed changes will kick start growth in Enterprise Zones and also that they are likely to deliver poor outcomes for surrounding communities.
  • 44 per cent of people agreed that the proposed changes will further disadvantage established areas where infrastructure is poor.
  • Only 10 per cent agreed that the changes would deliver the housing that NSW needed.
  • 78 per cent felt the changes advantaged property developers.
  • 49 per cent felt the changes disadvantaged local government.
  • 51 per cent felt the changes disadvantaged members of the community

The survey said the resulted showed there was “broad support for development of a new system rather than continued retrofitting of the current one”.

“Changes to the planning system to reduce complexity and duplication are needed…….”

“The proposal to focus on strategic planning is commendable and will create more certainty for development moving forward ………….” – quotes from the Survey.

“Streamlining, simplification and speed are all much hoped for outcomes for a new system and to achieve these people agree with the need for quite radical change,” the survey found.

“The majority are however of the view that the basic principles of planning should seek to balance environmental, social and economic objectives and this is seen as a fundamental weakness of the Green Paper.”

Changes to the planning system to reduce complexity and duplication are needed.  A greater role for strategic planning to ensure that biodiversity, habitat corridors, riparian areas and agricultural land has statutory protection in local land use plans is important.”- quote from the Survey.

“A factor contributing to this view is that the Paper is largely silent on the environment and completely so on social objectives,” the survey found.

“While creation of a Public Participation Charter is supported this does not replace the need for inclusion of social objectives within the framework.  It is important therefore that the White Paper can redress this imbalance either by review of content or stronger articulation of how the proposals will achieve the balance required.”

The survey found that politics and public participation were viewed as fundamental to the planning process and there was “accord that rather than attempting to limit or marginalise communities of interest the system needs to manage them more effectively”.

“In fact there seems to be apprehension that failure to acknowledge and manage this could see these reforms stall.”

For the full survey report click here.