Proposed reforms to the State's planning regime offer the promise of a more simple, efficient and transparent system that will encourage property investment, according to the Property Council of Australia.
The NSW Government's Green Paper released on the weekend outlines a bold overhaul of the strategic planning and development assessment systems.
“The investment climate was so polluted and there was such a stain on the system that the government needed to signal far-reaching reform to reposition NSW as a sound place to invest,” Illawarra Chapter Chair David Laing said.
“The planning system is one of the few significant micro-economic levers available to the Government as it seeks to restore the State‟s economic prosperity.
“The Green Paper promotes far-reaching reforms that can help build a fairer and simpler system – and create clear rules for both the community and investors.
“These include front loading consultation, entrenching depoliticised development assessment, and allowing more code assessable development.
“It rightly places greater faith in the value of good strategic planning and seeks to constrain the politics from development assessment which will hopefully encourage investment with the certainty it delivers.
“The new regime also looks to piece together the missing link in previous planning regimes – the relationship between project and infrastructure planning.”
Mr Laing said the direction of the reforms indicated within the Green Paper should inspire planners to start planning again and get involved in the strategic directions of communities.
He said the industry was encouraged by the Green Papers‟ four key reform areas of:
early and effective community participation;
Strategic focus especially the sub-regional delivery plans aligned to infrastructure;
Streamlined approvals – fast and transparent, maximising code complying development so investors whose projects confirm have surety
Provision of growth area infrastructure – linked with the strategic planning of land use
“To deliver these aims, the Green Paper even highlighted the need to address a planning culture change to make it more 'facilitative' which will hopefully empower practitioners at all levels to contribute to the smart, considered growth of our communities,” he said.
Mr Laing said however some reform options still need to be refined – and a strong focus on implementation is needed.
“NSW still lacks a 'cop on the beat' – enforcing the new system and ensuring conflicting policies within councils and government agencies don‟t inhibit project delivery or make the delivery requirements so onerous the project becomes economically unviable,” Mr Laing said.
“The size of the task attached to the overhaul should not be under-estimated and constant vigilance is needed to ensure the system doesn‟t slip back into bad habits.”
Mr Laing said the during the proposed two-year reform process, the Government needed to ensure that investment opportunities dealt with in the meantime did not fall into a no-man‟s land of red tape and stalled decision-making.
Media contact: David Laing, Illawarra Chapter Chair on 0419 284 626.