Australia

City planning needs to improve: COAG Reform Council

A REVIEW of Australia's capital cities by the COAG Reform Council has found that governments need to do more to plan better for the future land use, infrastructure and economies of our cities.

The Council's report, released last week, found that while governments have shown strong commitment to improve their planning systems, none of their systems are entirely consistent with COAG's agreed criteria to re-shape capital cities.

Chairman of the COAG Reform Council, Paul McClintock, said governments need to get better at bringing together different aspects of their city planning.

The Council was tasked with reviewing all eight capital city strategic planning systems against COAG's nine agreed criteria, with the assistance of an expert advisory panel appointed by COAG.

The report, titled 'Review of capital city strategic planning systems', was submitted to COAG in December last year, who committed to responding to the review within six months.

The Council found both strengths and weaknesses in the long-term planning of each capital city and said it was clear that governments share a number of common goals, issues and challenges.

Mr McClintock said that COAG's reforms and the review process demonstrate the value of collaboration by governments on planning capital cities, adding that it is "absolutely essential that all nine governments continue to work together to achieve COAG's objective for our capital cities."

The Council has made a number of recommendations to COAG on the need to engage more with community, businesses and other stakeholders; focus more on implementing plans and getting results in cities; and consider ways to improve investment and innovation by the private sector.

The Property Council of Australia and the Residential Development Council (RDC) welcomed the release of the COAG Reform Council's Capital Cities Strategic Planning Systems Review, saying it lays a foundation for much-needed change in the way cities are planned and managed.

The review and its recommendations demonstrate that we must get smarter about investing in and managing our cities, said Peter Verwer, Chief Executive, Property Council of Australia.

"The next COAG meeting should commit to a process that will set performance targets for cities," Mr Verwer said.

An integrated response to housing supply must head the list of priority actions, according to Caryn Kakas, Executive Director, Residential Development Council.

"Government can only improve housing affordability through an integrated plan which provides for affordable housing and supports the delivery of a diverse range of dwellings."

"Housing is unaffordable. Now is the time for a genuine housing policy with clear outcomes and strong targets to improve affordability," said Ms Kakas.

The Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) said the study uncovered a lack of cooperation and communication among governments when it comes to planning for land use, infrastructure and the economies of our cities.

PIA Chief Executive Officer Kirsty Kelly said the future of Australian cities is too important to be left to the whim of the political cycle.

"Cities need bipartisan support and we are calling on all sides of politics to recognise their enormous value," Ms Kelly said.

"We are calling on the Federal Government to initiate long term plans, performance measures and targets and better coordination with state and territory governments."

More information on the report, Review of capital city strategic planning systems, is available from the COAG Reform Council website at <http://www.coagreformcouncil.gov.au/>.

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