SOUTH Australian Planning Minister John Rau last week announced that new laws that reform South Australia's planning system and aim to unlock investment potential have passed Parliament.
Following amendments in the Legislative Council, the new legislation will allow for the creation of an Environmental and Food Protection Area and for up to one elected member from local councils to be on Development Assessment Panels.
"Whilst the Government was steadfast in its belief that assessment panels should not be dominated by the vagaries of local politics, it has decided on balance to accept the amendment made in the Legislative Council for now to allow the benefits of these significant reforms to be realised sooner," Mr Rau said.
"I remain concerned about some amendments of the Bill passed in the Legislative Council but, that is not a sufficient reason to delay progress."
Two new Infrastructure Schemes will also form part of the legislation, together with an entirely new planning system oriented to deliver certainty and clearer and faster planning assessment pathways.
Mr Rau said the new legislation will deliver a new planning system, oriented to provide any developer with an early 'yes' or 'no' to their proposed development, and not an infinite and costly 'maybe'.
The Property Council of Australia welcomed the new legislation and said attention must now turn to funding an e-planning system.
"Overall, the passage of the Bill will significantly improve the state's property sector – a sector that for too long has been held back by a lethargic local government-based planning system," said SA Executive Director Daniel Gannon.
"What we wanted from the outset was the removal of onerous green- and red-tape, the depoliticisation of our planning system and the removal of barriers to job creation and growth.
"Ironically, in the pursuit of depoliticisation, we faced a bombardment of politics around the ambition to remove elected representatives from Development Assessment Panels.
"Parliament eventually declared that there will be up to one elected representative sitting on DAPs, which means an overall reduction in the number of elected officials as part of the assessment process.
"This means Parliament accepted the argument that we had to change the current lethargic local government-based planning system, which must be seen as a victory for commonsense.
"The property sector is now 100% focused on the Government fully funding the proposed e-planning system so that it can be truly modernized.
"An e-planning system is not a luxury or an indulgence – it is a necessity for modernized development pathways," Mr Gannon concluded.
More information about the planning legislation is available from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure website at <http://dpti.sa.gov.au/planning/planning_reform>.