New South Wales

'Planning system has lost its way': LGSA

THE Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW (LGSA) are calling on all political parties to scrap Part 3A and end the State Government's control of the NSW planning system.

The LGSA say a genuine test and independent commission for state significant developments is needed to restore the balance to land use planning.

President of the Local Government Association, Councillor Keith Rhoades, said it is essential that the incoming State Government work in close consultation with Local Government to develop a more open and transparent planning system. 

Cr Rhoades said that communities in NSW are "fed up with being ignored and dictated to about what's being built in their own backyard", adding that the Part 3A assessment system was unnecessary and damaging.

He cited the recent Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) report that found the Part 3A system creates a perception, and potential, for undue influence and corruption.

The Part 3A assessment system commenced in 2005 and consolidated the different assessment and approval regimes for 'major' projects in NSW determined by the Minister for Planning that are of 'regional or state significance', limiting the involvement of local councils in the planning process.

"Councils accept there are developments of state significance which are best dealt with by the State Government - but these are things that are on the scale of Olympic Park, ports, major public transport and road infrastructure, not high rise residential developments or a 50-lot subdivision," Cr Rhoades said.

President of the Shires Association of NSW, Cr Bruce Miller, said councils and communities want to achieve good planning outcomes for their local areas, adding that locally elected people should make decisions regarding the local community.

Cr Bruce Miller called for a major review and rewrite of the entire Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, with a particular focus on Part 3A and Major Projects State Environment Planning Policies (SEPP). 

Last month, the LGSA released their NSW Election Priorities 2011, demanding significant change from the next government, including the removal of Part 3A and similar provisions, a review and rewrite of planning legislation and the abolishment of Joint Regional Planning Panels.

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