States Unveil Planning Reforms

The New South Wales Government has finally come out with an announcement to reform residential developments across the state, pleasing homeowners, developers, builders and local governments.

On 27 November 2007, a discussion paper was issued by Planning Minister Frank Sartor. The report was to announce the improving the NSW Planning System, outlining the major reforms.
According to the NSW department of Planning, the discussion paper proposes at least 90 recommendations to improve the planning system, including:

* The Planning Minister’s oversight will be reduced in the case of development proposals; the use of assessment panels will be increased;
* With respect to the size and complexity of proposals, the new plan will allow adaptation of the development application assessment process including local plan making systems
* Increase the number of developments approved under compliance certificates;
* Proposes to reduce the processing times of development applications and local plans;
* Shortens the time for approval of small scale development, such as home renovations, to within ten days if the new NSW standards are complied with;
* The oversight of the building certification system will be improved;
* Online planning information and support will be increased;
* and
* Miscellaneous recommendations in areas such as strata management, paper subdivisions and dispute resolution.
* Red tape will be reduced, avoiding council bureaucracy.

Major reforms are planned with regard to cutting red tape in the lengthy  development approval processes; the number of developments subject to certifier approval will be expanded.

Building codes will be standardised to apply across council boundaries; “planning arbitrators” will be appointed to help manage and administer the development applications more effectively.

Stakeholders and members can comment on the NSW paper until February 8 2008.

For more information visit http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/.

Queensland’s Reform Package

The report issued by the NSW follows both Victoria’s and Queensland’s recent announcements to modernise their planning and development systems.

In September 2007, the Queensland Government released a report that called “Planning for a Prosperous Queensland a reform agenda for planning and development in the Smart State”. Set to become operational in late 2008, the report made 80 recommendations of reform to planning legislation.

The intent of the reform is to “move the focus from the planning process to the delivery of sustainable outcomes” the Queensland Government said.  These goals will be delivered by:

* new planning legislation implementing improved tools for State and local government to proactively manage planning and development
* reduced complexity of planning policy through greater standardisation
* adoption a “risk-based” approach to development assessment
* streamlined dispute resolution processes
* encouraging active community participation in the planning and development assessment system.

For more information visit http://www.lgp.qld.gov.au/

Victoria’s Plan

Victoria was next to release its reform proposals, with the release of the “Making Local Policy Stronger” report, and the Government’s “five–point priority action plan” initiated in October 2007.

“This report sets out some of the most important planning reforms in recent years, particularly its recommendation to review residential zones so that they can more clearly reflect state and local policy outcomes,” Victoria Planning Minister Justin Madden said. “Victoria already has a very good planning system, but these new reforms will make a big difference to councils, giving them the tools they need to manage development and change in their municipalities.”

According to Mr Madden, the Making Local Policy Stronger report’s five key recommendations were to:

* Provide more certainty for councils by making it easier and more efficient to implement policy through planning controls;
* Making the State Planning Policy policies clearer about how they should be implemented at the local level;
* Reviewing planning schemes on a regular basis to ensure they accurately express state and local strategic intentions;
* Increasing the effectiveness of local policy by simplifying the way it is presented in planning schemes; and
* Making policy clear as to when prescriptive provisions can be used;

For more information on Victoria’s reforms visit http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning