THE NSW Government has announced it will implement recommendations to the planning system in order to "increase competition and lower prices to consumers across the state".
Planning Minister Tony Kelly said the NSW Government would implement the recommendations of a review that looked into promoting economic growth and commercial competition through the planning system.
The review was conducted by the Department of Planning and the Better Regulation Office who investigated how the NSW planning system promotes or detracts from opportunities for competition and economic growth.
The review aimed to identify measures which could increase benefits for consumers by ensuring that the planning system provides a straightforward consistent framework for new operators to enter markets, and by ensuring that emerging sectors are not unnecessarily inhibited.
The final report was released in April 2010. The Department of Planning and the Better Regulation Office are working on implementing the report's recommendations.
The recommendations of the NSW review report include:
- A Competition State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) be developed to clarify that competition between individual businesses is not in itself a relevant planning consideration,
- Any restriction on the number of a particular type of retail store or any proximity restriction contained in a LEP or DCP is invalid.
- Considering ways to increase opportunities for competition by allowing more types of shops into centres that currently only permit neighbourhood shops.
- Providing guidance on how to consider third party objections when assessing development proposals, including how to seek recourse for vexatious objections.
- The Minister issuing a direction to councils under section 117 of the Environmental Protection & Assessment Act to ensure that, unless it can be justified on sound planning grounds, planning policies and instruments cannot apply retrospectively.
Mr Kelly said that "NSW is the first state to strip back planning requirements that lead to anti-competitive behaviour in the retail industry. We will be implementing these recommendations to increase competition in retail businesses. The planning system should not permit unnecessary or unjustifiable protections that impede competition and this report recommends measures to make this clear and enforceable."
Mr Kelly said work has begun on drafting the Competition SEPP and other recommended instruments.
The review follows Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Productivity Commission reports on the effects of planning and zoning controls on the restriction of competition.