Australia: Overwhelming community interest in the future of planning in NSW

In brief - Green Paper Feedback Summary released by NSW government

On 21 December 2012, the NSW government released the Green Paper Feedback Summary, which summarises the main community and stakeholder feedback on the reform areas proposed in the Green Paper. These reform areas were identified and discussed in our July 2012 article Green Paper on planning reform in NSW released by government.

The completion of this review process signifies the final step before the release of the White Paper, which will respond to this feedback and set out the details of how the new planning system will be implemented.

Enormous interest within the community in the future of planning

The government received a total of 1,220 submissions during the Green Paper exhibition period. The overwhelming majority (61%) were received from the community, 11% from community organisations and 9% from local government, highlighting the importance to the community of the future of planning in NSW.

Key feedback themes identified

  • There is a need to provide adequate resourcing and new methodologies for community engagement at strategic level.
  • The shift towards focusing on strategic planning requires appropriate resourcing and a legible policy and legislation framework.
  • Streamlined decision making needs to occur at the development assessment level. By planning strategically upfront, with community input, development assessment can be smarter and more timely adopting a risk based approach.
  • Integration of land use with infrastructure is imperative and the funding for infrastructure provision and delivery needs to be addressed.
  • The Department of Planning and Infrastructure needs to take a leadership role to empower planners to have a 'can do' attitude to execute decisions, and encourage collaboration between all stakeholders.

Importance of ecologically sustainable development

Many submissions called for the expansion of the objectives of the new planning system to balance development with social and environmental considerations, a concept seemingly lacking in the Green Paper.

The concept of ecologically sustainable development has been identified by a diverse range of stakeholder groups as a necessary overarching objective of the new planning system, to ensure the delivery of long term beneficial outcomes.

Implementation of the new planning system

The establishment of the planning bodies and the preparation of the suite of planning instruments proposed in the Green Paper will be a process that may take a number of years. Just how the government will deal with the transitional arrangements to facilitate the implementation of the new planning system was an issue raised in many of the submissions received.

It is anticipated that the White Paper will respond to these concerns and address issues such as how long the transition period will last and the interim measures to be implemented to ensure consistency in outcomes from this point into the future.

White Paper due to be released shortly

The White Paper and "draft exposure bill" are due for release shortly, at which time the true extent of the proposed reforms can be assessed. It is anticipated that many of the key feedback themes identified will be addressed in the draft legislation. However, the ideological shift called for may require more time and further consultation by the government.

Claire Parsons Anthony Perkins
Planning and environment
Colin Biggers & Paisley

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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