Property sector wants planning certainty

Catherine Carter | Monday, 23 March 2009 9:00 AM | Add Comment

Commentators sometimes assert that property developers want a free-for all with respect to planning, or even no planning system at all. This proposition is clearly nonsense.

What the property development industry does want is certainty in the planning system, both in terms of what is permitted and what is not permitted, and timely responses from the relevant planning agencies.

This becomes particularly important in an environment where funding for private sector projects is provided by financiers on a “use it or lose it” basis – approvals for finance can lapse if the work is not approved quickly because of delays in the planning system. In an economic downturn, the potential loss of investment into the Territory is something we can all ill afford.

The property sector has welcomed a range of initiatives which have been put in place by the ACT Government in recent months, including the establishment of an industry monitoring group to work together with the ACT Planning and Land Authority to oversight the implementation of an agreed industry action plan, including working on positive actions to address delays and bottlenecks in the system.

However, there are still some areas where significant improvements can be achieved, in particular the length of time it takes to get acknowledgement of development applications, and the frequency of contact that is required with planning authorities to achieve an outcome.

Property industry groups, including the Property Council, MBA and HIA and others, have been working together to identify key enhancements to the existing planning system, and have together developed a paper that was presented at the most recent Economic Stimulus Roundtable held this month.

Towards the end of last year, Chief Minister Jon Stanhope and the ACT Government conducted a series of roundtables with industry and community groups on the local impacts of the global financial crisis, and to develop ideas and steps that government can take to mitigate locally the effects of the global recession.

The property industry paper includes the establishment of a major projects unit to co-ordinate the processing of projects with a construction value of more than $20 million, and a methodology to ensure that all development assessments are dealt with in a timely manner.

The ACT Government is to be applauded for taking early decisive steps to listen to industry and the community, and to work through the issues and barriers to achieving a strong economy.

Catherine Carter | Monday, 23 March 2009 9:00 AM | Add Comment

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