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SUMMARY AND KEY RECOMMENDATIONS
This land release program is critical in providing land for housing, economic development and jobs.
Although some issues need to be resolved, this land release program must go ahead and should not be unnecessarily delayed further.
The Government will need to commit to further large scale land release programs to accommodate population growth, even with 60-70 per cent of new growth occurring in existing suburbs. It should give consideration to additional sites in and around the urban fringe, and in the Hunter and Illawarra.
The planning process
The approval and master planning process for the growth centres is generally sound. The Government should strongly recommit to this framework. Uncertainty about this framework jeopardises achieving supply targets by 2008.
The draft Land Release SEPP should be immediately placed on public exhibition, along with the revised structure plans, and the development code.
The streamlined planning process is welcomed by industry. However, through what mechanism no other State Government agency approvals or concurrences will be needed at the DA planning stage should be clarified by the Department of Planning.
Consideration should be given, through the proposed Land Release SEPP, for precinct plans to be developed by a landowner, or group of landowners (where relevant), for a release area.
The remainder of the staffing requirements for the Growth Centres Commission (GCC) need to be completed quickly; consultation with industry by the GCC needs to be improved; and regular updates on the progress being made should be provided to all stakeholders.
The GCC should play a lead role in coordinating the work of various State agencies and local councils, and should have the authority to approve precinct plans provided that they are consistent with the overarching planning framework set out by the structure plan and the SEPP.
The proposed ‘green zone’ needs to be reviewed and redrawn, and fresh round of on the ground mapping needs to be carried out immediately.
A program of biodiversity certification with green offsets should be considered for these areas.
A process for compulsory acquisition, if necessary, and which is fair, reasonable and transparent, should be clearly spelt out for industry, landowners and residents.
The timing of all precincts for release should be reviewed, taking into account the infrastructure currently in place and able to serve these areas, the proposed future timetable for infrastructure development, and those with development applications well advanced should be able to be fast-tracked.
The Government should consider utilising Landcom to assist in achieving development outcomes in more complex areas.
These plans need to be coordinated and integrated with the yet to be released further components of the Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney.