THE New South Wales Department of Planning and Infrastructure has proposed reforms to planning processes for riparian corridors, bush fire planning, biodiversity and Aboriginal cultural heritage in an effort to improve housing supply.
In a planning circular released last week, the Department said the State Government is strongly committed to increasing the supply of housing and a number of system-wide issues have been identified that complicate planning processes and add unnecessary time and cost to the housing supply pipeline.
The four major issues identified are riparian corridors, bush fire planning, biodiversity and Aboriginal cultural heritage and the Department has proposed the introduction of a number of changes and initiatives to respond to these issues.
Development industry group, Urban Taskforce, said the announcement was a welcome move to cut red tape that is slowing down the state's planning system.
"Many of our members have been caught up in endless delays to major projects where various government departments have been overly pedantic about environmental and heritage issues. This has contributed to a slowdown in the supply of houses in the state," said Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson.
"We are particularly pleased to see that the government is elevating the importance of growth and housing supply by tackling the complexity and subjectivity in the current regulations for riparian corridors, bushfire planning, biodiversity and in the interpretation of Aboriginal cultural heritage.
"The industry will need to see how these initiatives work in practice as they will require new ways of thinking by some of the agencies. It will be important for the Department of Planning and Infrastructure to monitor performance in these four areas of reform and to continue to take a leadership role with other agencies.
"The move to a totally new methodology for determining activities in riparian corridors sounds positive but will need to be tested on real projects.
"With bushfire planning the proposals to update maps, have one assessment at subdivision stage and the streamlining of approvals are positive moves.
"With biodiversity the proposed removal of the Commonwealth's role and improvements to mapping and gateway processes will be positive changes but will also need to be tested on real projects.
"Proposed reforms in the area of Aboriginal cultural heritage are at the early stage but have the potential to save significant amounts of time," Mr Johnson said.
More information on the proposed initiatives is available from the Department of Planning and Infrastructure website at <http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/>.