South Australia’s planning reform momentum has been lost, the state having fallen to third place on the Development Assessment Report Card.
At an overall score of 6.5 on the performance benchmark, SA ceded its leadership to the Northern Territory (7.5) and Western Australia (7.1).
The Development Assessment Forum (DAF) established 10 Leading Practice Principles which are designed to improve and simplify the development assessment process.
But according to Property Council of Australia (SA Division) President Justin Hazell, South Australia could quickly reclaim the mantle if the State Government completes its promised reforms and undertakes a third tranche of reform. And crucially, he says, Local Government must start playing its part in the reform process.
“It seems that South Australia has suffered from a case of reform fatigue over the past two years,” Mr Hazell said.
“After the robust reform program that ran from 2007 to 2010, culminating with the release of Australia’s first holistic city plan – the 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide – it appears the gloss has come off and we’ve lost some of our reformist zeal.
“Today’s report shows that we’ve got a few loose ends still to tidy up- particularly our woefully slow Development Plan Amendment process, huge variances between Council Development Plans and a piecemeal approach to application of the Residential Code.
“These things are not nice to haves; they’re critical to fulfilling the needs of a growing community and economy.”
In a presentation to Property Council’s state conference in February this year, former Chair of the Economic Development Board Bruce Carter said South Australia would see an influx of 13,000 jobs on the back of the BHP Billiton Olympic Dam expansion alone, driving unprecedented demand for new housing, workplaces and community facilities.
Mr Hazell said all spheres of government will have to work together, in collaboration with industry, to ensure that South Australia’s promised prosperity wasn’t stymied by planning potholes.
“The State Government has indicated its clear intent to get its planning reforms back on track but we need a similar commitment from Local Government for it to happen,” Mr Hazell said.
“Many of our more progressive Councils have recognised the need for an overhaul in the way we plan for growth and have made internal changes to accommodate the state’s long-term needs.
“But we’re still seeing some resistance to the State Government’s reasonable request that Councils align their land use plans with the 30-Year Plan.
“We recognise, however, that this is often more to do with resourcing than it is about recalcitrance, and that’s why we’re recommending a “third tranche‟ of reforms to turbo-charge our planning system.”
The third tranche of reform seeks to complete unfulfilled commitments and drive further efficiencies within assessment agencies. It includes recommendations for:
- Standardisation of Council plans so they align clearly with State Government strategies and with each other (by the end of calendar year 2012).
- Rationalisation and standardisation of terms and phrases used across all planning and development assessment documentation to eliminate (where possible) the need for interpretation by planning officials (by the end of calendar year 2013).
- Mandatory Regional Development Assessment Panels to be established in cross-Council areas that are projected to see high levels of growth in the life of the 30-Year Plan and where geographical alignments and peculiarities deem it expedient, for example the Hills Face Zone (by the end of calendar year 2012).
- An incentive model similar to the National Competition Policy process that rewards Councils that achieve „best practice‟ indicators on their planning strategies and assessment processes (indicators formed by end of the third quarter of 2012 and incentive structure commenced by second quarter 2013).
- Prompt optimisation of the Residential Code of Development Code (by the third quarter of 2012).
Development and implementation of a Commercial Development Code of Development, a Multi-Level Residential Code of Development and a Mixed-Use Code of Development (by the end of calendar year 2012).
- Exploration of an Industrial Code of Development and a Student Housing Code of Development (initial work to commence in the first quarter of 2013).
- Councils and State Government to work together to form a "best practice‟ guide to career development for planners and incentive schemes to encourage and reward improved individual performance.
“South Australia can and must reclaim its leadership in planning reform,” Mr Hazell said.
“We’re at a critical point right now where we can either seize prosperity or drop the ball – if we want our children to enjoy growing up in South Australia like we have, we can’t afford to drop the ball now.”
See the attached release for more detail.