Landmark new research reveals the community wants independent experts – not local councillors – making decisions on significant development projects.
The research – conducted by Auspoll for the Property Council of Australia – tested community attitudes towards council performance and development assessment.
Over 1000 homeowners across NSW were surveyed, particularly on the use of independent planning panels that determine significant projects.
The future of independent panels is being evaluated during the current review of the State’s planning system.
“NSW needs a planning system that is free of politics – and decisions that are consistent, open and honest,” NSW Executive Director Glenn Byres said today.
“The community understands that is best delivered when an independent umpire acts as a guardian of the system and determines the fate of significant projects.
“The role of the independent planning panels should be retained and consolidated in any new planning system to emerge in NSW.”
Headline findings from the survey include:
78% of people want independent experts in charge – and only 22% want local councillors making decisions
83% think independent panels keep politics and self-interest out of planning
88% agree that independent panels can help keep decisions consistent, transparent and honest
17% say councillors make decisions independently and free of vested interests
20% agree councillors are experts in planning for the needs of local communities
26% have confidence that council can properly assess big projects.
“These findings show the use of independent planning panels can help give everyone confidence that decisions will be made on merit,” Mr Byres said.
“It is time for councillors across NSW who oppose the use of planning panels to drop their calls for the elimination of independent experts in the system.
“They are out of step with the communities they claim to represent.”
Other significant findings from the research include:
The number of people who would support NSW dropping the threshold for significant projects from $20m to $10m is double the number that oppose;
68% of people would strongly support or support the State Government forcing the amalgamation of councils; and
62% of people think Sydney should have fewer than 20 councils – less than half the current number of local government areas.
The report can be viewed below.
Media contact: Glenn Byres, NSW Executive Director, 0419 695 435.