THE New South Wales Government last week released 'A New Planning System for New South Wales - Green Paper', calling it a bold step in the development of a new and more transparent, effective, and efficient planning system for the state.
Planning Minister Brad Hazzard said it delivers on an election commitment to completely overhaul the 30-year-old Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, with community participation being placed at the forefront of the new planning system.
"We are developing a planning system that for the first time will put community participation at the forefront of planning decisions… Communities are the best at shaping their future, and our planning system will enshrine in law their involvement in planning for growth and change," Mr Hazzard said.
The Minister said the new planning system will have a strong focus on good, upfront strategic planning, involving evidence-based decisions about how cities and regions will grow over time and providing communities with confidence and certainty about how their neighbourhoods will grow over time.
According to the Green Paper, the new legislation will be "an 'enabling' Act to establish the broad framework for the planning system". Its objectives will emphasise "the role of planning in facilitating and managing growth and economic development."
The Green Paper outlines 23 major changes in five key areas of the planning system, these are:
- The NSW Government proposes a new Public Participation Charter to require that appropriate community participation occurs in plan making and development assessment;
- Strategic community participation to enable effective and early community participation;
- Transparency in decision making to increase public access to the evidence base for decisions; and
- Information technology and e–planning to simplify and improve community access to planning information and processes.
- NSW Planning Policies replace SEPPs and Section 117 Directions and provide practical high level direction;
- Regional Growth Plans to align strategic planning with infrastructure delivery;
- Subregional Delivery Plans that affect immediate changes to zones, are based on evidence in sectoral Strategies and linked to Growth Infrastructure Plans;
- Local Land Use Plans with strategic context and performance based development guidelines; and
- New Zones to capture investment opportunities and preserve local character.
- Depoliticised decision making with development decisions streamed to independent experts;
- Strategic compliance to allow development that complies with strategic planning to proceed;
- Streamlined state significant assessment to deliver major projects sooner;
- Smarter and timely merit assessment with requirements matching the level of risk;
- Increasing code assessment to reduce transactions costs and speed up approvals for complying development; and
- Extended reviews and appeals to increase the accountability of decision makers.
Provision of Infrastructure
- Contestable infrastructure to enable greater private sector participation;
- Growth Infrastructure Plans to link strategic plans with infrastructure provision;
- Affordable infrastructure contributions to provide a fairer and simpler system to support growth; and
- Public Priority Infrastructure to streamline assessment for major infrastructure delivery.
- Chief Executive Officers Group to provide a whole of government approach to implementation;
- Regional Planning Boards to oversee regional and subregional strategic plan making;
- Mandatory performance monitoring to publicly track performance towards achievement of strategic plans at all levels; and
- Organisational reform to resource strategic planning and improve the culture of planning at all levels.
The Green Paper is the government's initial response to the Recommendations of the Independent Review of the NSW Planning System that commenced in July 2011 and was led by Tim Moore and Ron Dyer.
An online consultation forum is available and a number of face-to-face and online events and workshops will also be held throughout the exhibition period. Submissions on the Green Paper and the Independent Panel's Review Report can be lodged until Friday 14 September 2012.
More information is available from the Department of Planning and Infrastructure website at <http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/> or the NSW Government's 'Have Your Say' website at <http://haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/newplanningsystem>.