ADELAIDE City Council has unanimously endorsed recommendations that will form the basis of the council's submission in response to the recent report of the Expert Panel on Planning Reform, which put forward 27 proposals to reform South Australia's planning system.
Deputy Chair of Council's City Planning & Development Committee, David Plumridge, last week said a key point in the council's submission to the Expert Panel will be around its support for establishing a State Planning Commission as the first step in any reform process.
"Council is saying we support a Commission which is independent of State Government, can depoliticise decisions, is inclusive in style and made up of cross sector representatives –that'd be a positive first step in our view," Cr Plumridge said.
"At arm's length from the State Government and able to make decisions, the Commission should have as its first action to work with key stakeholders on establishing Reform 3 – the Charter for Citizen Participation.
"It's important though that any Charter doesn't remove mandatory engagement requirements, and is not a substitute for a 'local voice' and the influencing role that local government plays on behalf of its local community."
Cr Plumridge said the council's submission will also reinforce the view that any reforms should ensure that all of the state's rich heritage assets are protected and that current listings are not lost.
The council's submission reiterates its opposition to the Expert Panel's recommendation to establish Regional Planning Boards and Regional Development Assessment Panels, due to concerns the proposals would exclude local government and elected representatives from policy development and development assessment.
"With the panel charged with providing a final report to the State Government by December, we'll be calling on the Planning Minister to provide a public response to the final report and all its recommendations, as well as provide an opportunity for the community and key stakeholders to be engaged before they implement any reforms," Cr Plumridge said.
"This Government has a reputation for making changes to the planning system with little or no consultation, which is totally at odds with the approach the Minister has asked the Expert Panel to use, so we expect to be consulted before any change comes about.
"The Planning Minister clearly showed his hand recently when he was quoted saying councils should stick to approving fences and sheds – this at a time when people are meant to be participating in an independent process of his making to look at reform across the whole of the State.
"The State's lack of engagement on planning changes in the last year really underlines why local communities need to engage on what's being proposed by the Expert Panel in their report – Our Ideas for Reform. The panel's 27 reform ideas put every aspect of the State's planning system up for review," Cr Plumridge said.
The Expert Panel on Planning Reform released its 'Our Ideas for Reform' report in August, following 12 months of research and consultation with stakeholders across the state. The Panel is accepting submissions on the report until September 26 and is due to present its final report to the State Government in December 2014.
More information about the 'Our Ideas for Reform' report is available from South Australia's Expert Panel on Planning Reform website at <http://www.thinkdesigndeliver.sa.gov.au/>.