Thursday, 25 October 2012

Liberals "Return planning powers to local communities" a myth

The Liberals promise to return planning powers to local communities is just a myth as they move to rush through legislation to give developers the power to ignore councils and local communities. 

The Liberal Party is rushing through amendments to the state's Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to restrict the application of Councils Development Control Plans (DCP) without any consultation with Local Government, the community or key stakeholders. 

A DCP is a planning document which contains a council's expectations for its area. It must be adopted after consultation with the community and must be consistently applied by the council to be effective. 

The importance of a DCP was endorsed by the Land and Environment Court in 2004 by McClellan C J in the Stockland Case. 

Tthe Liberal Government haste was by amendments and trying to burying them amongst speeches on housing shortages. 

Yesterday under the pretence of addressing housing shortage's the government tried to sneak through very substantial amendments to the legislation, with no community consultation, no consultation with Local Government and no consultation with any stakeholder. The amendments mean developers will have carte blanche to ignore council and local community requirements.

In seeking to restrict the application of councils Development Control Plans (DCP) the liberal government is treating council's with contempt. Developers can ignore policies that are important to the community such as requirements to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill, energy efficiency, architectural design, urban design, childcare centres and alike". Mr Hoenig said 

There is no sound reason for the Liberals trying to rush though this legislation unless they are trying to avoid public and media scrutiny. 

The O'Farrell government is hoping because of the complexity of the planning law that the public and media will not understand what they are proposing, so they can look after their developer mates by giving them open slather to get development approvals contrary to planning instruments agreed to by our local communities. 

The Government’s claim that councils through the use of the DCPs have been obstructing development or investment is rubbish. The Minister has ample powers under the Act to direct council's in relation to DCP's. No direction has been given.

It is a clever trick. Limit the effect of a DCP, then have the Joint Regional Planning Panels approve the applications, and the Minister can say he is hands off. 

This is a sneaky government.

The Liberals say they want to review of the entire planning system. They have released a green paper for public comment and are about to release a white paper to undertake a complete planning review. 

Yet they want to slip through something that will substantially change the balance in the favour of developers.

The Liberals promise to return planning powers to local communities is just plan fiction. What they say and what they do are two different things.

My speech on this disgraceful bill can be found here:  Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Bill 2012

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