Q In your view, what are the major challenges facing the
A They are the complexity of the planning
system in NSW, the difficulty of obtaining bank credit and limited
land supply. The banks are freeing up somewhat now, but the
planning system is not. It still remains highly politicised, lacks
clear state driven direction and is often frustrated by conflicts
between state and local government and interest groups. Meanwhile,
the high demand for land, especially residential stock, means that
land owners are asking prices for development sites that exceed
developers' budgetary parameters.
Q What are the major environmental liabilities for
A Contamination issues remain a constant source
of concern, especially for 'brown field' sites. Development
assessment delays are a financial liability to be closely managed.
Biodiversity management can also bedevil a development.
Q If you could make a change in the industry what would
A Simplicity of process and clarity of
direction. The changes to the planning laws proposed in 2013 were a
step in the right direction, but were shot down by
Q What is your major career achievement?
A Some of the larger development sites I have
worked on where we have resolved difficult issues affecting many
parties. I am proud to have acted for the Minister for Planning on
quite a few matters, including one where 6 or so parties joined
together to preserve about 92 hectares of protected biodiversity in
Eastern Creek, 35 kilometres west of Sydney's CBD while still
extracting good development returns from the area.
ABOUT ROBERT WILCHER
Robert is a highly regarded legal adviser in planning and
environment law and litigation for major property developers and
government clients in New South Wales. His passion for the industry
is evidenced by his contribution to the following groups:
Member, Planning Committee of the Property Council of Australia
Member, Ministerial Working Party on Aboriginal Culture and
Heritage Law Reform
Member, former Ministerial Biobanking Reference Group
Immediate Past Chair, Sustainable Development Committee of the
Property Council of Australia (NSW Division)
Member, the Law Society of New South Wales
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This article is the first in a series to examine the new Planning Act 2016 and how it may impact on future development.
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