E-Planning

One of the best news in my opinion to come out of the State Budget is the news that the introduction of E-Planning has been included in the budget.

The budget allocates $ 24.8 million over 4 years to carry out this modernization and simplification to the planning system.

John-Rau-3883-850x455This is by far the most important reform in the suite of planning reforms put forward under Minister John Rau in the last 4 years.

A reform that, more than any other, will simplify and make easy the task of individuals accessing the planning system of this state. The government through Minister John Rau says the reforms will unleash the potential of new developments to create jobs and strengthen the economy

For too long the public debate has been about the role of Councils in the planning process. For too long the focus has been on blaming local government for the inadequacies of the current system. During the long debate over planning reforms I have personally advocated for one reform above all others.

E-Planning, seen by the government as too expensive until now to implement, is the cornerstone of an efficient system. E-Planning is digital technology with a focus on “data base” programming rather the “word” programming as is currently the case.

By creating a state wide data base E-Planning will enable anyone, whether a building or planning technician or a mum & dad property developer to know exactly what form of development is permissible on any property. It will allow YOU to put your address into a search engine and be provided instantly with the planning parameters applicable to that site.

Whether you are building a new home from scratch, an extension to your home, or a pergola/verandah you will know what you can safely submit to Council. You can enjoy an expectation of approval if you design within those parameters.

Planning Reform Opponents Morons show respect not afforded them.

Minister Rau you are fortunate that your Planning Reform Opponents Morons are showing much more respect than that you are showing them.

To his credit Minister Rau did clarify his statement, saying the comments were “referring in general terms to critics making false statements about the contents of the Planning Bill”. “The language was however inappropriate and I apologise for using it,” he said.

He then, in defending his position, claimed “Where the present system manifestly fails is that most people have no idea what the zoning requirements are for where they live, and the first time they find out is when somebody wants to put something next door to them that they really, really hate, and they say, ‘And by the way, why didn’t somebody tell me that thing was coming?’” Rau said.

“What I am trying to do is to move that conversation right up to the beginning of it so that communities actually have a chat at the very beginning about what is going to be okay in our community.

John-Rau-3883-850x455You are completely right Minister but you have not addressed the problem. May I suggest to you that you are in the same boat as this large group of people. You do not understand the changes yourself.

I agree that not enough is done to involve people at the front end of the process. Waiting until the end of the process inevitably provides false hope as representations invariably do not address planning issues.

If you intend to provide them the opportunity to be involved at the front end you need to be serious about the consultation opportunity provided at that point of the process. While this legislation is working its way through the system your own inner suburban ministerial DPA, one of the more far reaching ever, will have a limited public consultation. This consultation will not in my opinion provide the very people you are calling morons a fair opportunity to contribute with any meaning.

And sorry but there must be a fail safe too at the end of the process. An opportunity for those affected by development that pushes the boundaries of a particular development plan, many by significant amounts; like the recent Cremorne Plaza on Unley Road which will have 40% more storeys than the recently agreed to DPA, from 5 to 7.

Minister, instead of denigrating (notwithstanding your apology) your opponents, how about listening to them. You might actually see that they have an argument worth taking on board.

Who do you want to approve the building next door to you?

Who do you want to approve the building next door to you is the question being asked by the Local Government Association on behalf of Councils as the State Government looks to remove them from the system.

 

I ask you this question and ask you too to please respond. If you don’t chances are you will never get a say on that development next door.

The Government rightly is trying to streamline what must surely be viewed as an archaic system, to provide clarity and surety to a system so that those who have to work the system can do so with confidence. Developers and builders need a simpler, easier to understand set of planning rules and I say that without fear or favour, as an ex builder myself.

The Government rightly are looking at such initiatives that I applaud and that I have lauded for a long time, such as producing an electronic data based development plan. The current paper based plans are onerous to say the least, being very difficult to navigate.  A data base system would allow anyone an opportunity to type their address in, no matter where they live or which Council area within they are located, and know instantly what development is allowable on their site.

The focus of the Government however appears to be however to remove Councils from as much of the process as possible and to limit your say as a neighbour.

As a builder I saw Councils as an impediment to running my business and I can say that my colleagues today feel the same way, having heard from many of them at a forum on this very topic last week run by the Housing Industry Association (HIA). I understand only too well now that the hurdles in my way where not the councils so much as the legislation that they have to operate under, legislation that is the province of course of the Government.

Watch out for subsequent posts on the involvement of council and councillors and also on your role but in the meantime I close by asking again who do you want to approve the building next door to you.

 

 

 

 

 

Will the Local be put back into Planning in SA post the State Elections

The Minister for Planning John Rau, the Shadow Minister Vicky Chapman and MLC Mark Parnell were interviewed by Mike Smithson of Channel 7 at a lunch hosted today by the LGA.

The Mayor & I attended this luncheon to hear what each had to offer in the Planning arena and their views of Council involvement.

Readers of this blog would be well aware that the Minister has overseen two planning initiatives in the current term of Government. They are the various development plan amendments to accommodate the Governments 30 year plan. The other is an overhaul of the Planning assessment regime.

For those of you interested in your built neighbourhood please read on.

The Minister was quite clear in determining that Councils should have a role in the Policy making of Planning, the development of the Development Plans but not in the assessment of individual application against that policy.

Vicky Chapman on the other hand felt it was up to Government to set policy and that Council is best served to carry out the assessment function.

Clearly a stark contrast between the two.

This hopefully gives readers a guide on which way to vote if you have a passion about how your street should look now and into the future.

Here’s my take to remind you what I have said in previous posts.

John Rau says we should be involved in policy but not in assessment.

In truth under his watch we have been the mechanism through which he conducted public consultation on what at the end of the day was his plan not ours on the various Development plan amendment we have participated in during my item on Council.

In my opinion what this did was focus anger from the public toward councils in the early days, until they woke up and understood it as his plan.

Quite frankly, while Unley finally won a number of major concessions, it was the Ministers plan not ours, although we did get a say. This to me means he agrees pretty much with his counterpart Vicky Chapman, that the State sets Policy, which I presume limits Local Government involvement. So I struggle to see that they vary on this important issue.

On the question of assessment Vicky Chapman has undertaken that a Liberal Government will put assessment of buildings 4 storeys and above back in the hands of Local Government after having recently been stripped from us.

John Rau is of the opinion that elected members presence on the councils DAP compromise the process as they have a conflict of interest. His approach, using a central Development Assessment Commission (DAC) filled only with professionals is the best approach.

Once again I disagree. A DAC has no local knowledge of the nuances of a given suburb or street. They are more likely to make a clinical decision which I suggest is poor process.

My take then is State Governments should take advantage of having a Local Government involved in both the Policy area and the assessment arena. Only Local Government is close to their community. Only Local Government has an understanding of the impact of development on transport, parking, the impact on the infrastructure. They should be at the core of both Policy and of assessment.

So where to from here?

You may or may not agree with my take so over to you. The choice is yours on March 15, one month from today.