Planning Approvals: Fast Track vs Community Consultation

The State Government is conducting a review of the Procedures behind obtaining Planning Approvals in this state, the First big shake up since 1993. This review is being conducted by an expert panel chaired by Brian Hayes QC.

This review is hot on the heels of the Governments push for Councils to contribute to their 30 year plan.
I attended last night a forum hosted by FOCUS, The Friends of the City of Unley. This forum was considering the question of protection of heritage buildings and the presenter, Prof Norman Etherington  was quite concerned that one of the criteria being adopted by the government for considering if a building is worthy of local heritage listing is whether or not it is a prime development site, under the 30 year plan.
The audience were all quite concerned that the Government does not have enough empathy for the history of our little community. FOCUS contributed significantly to the recent series of Development Plan Amendments that Council have prepared to address the Governments 30 year plan.
While they are concerned with this however the Government is also reviewing the planning processes used to assess developments. A day after the FOCUS meeting an article appeared on Adelaide Now that speaks to this very topic, highlighting such things as preventing elected members being on Development Assessment Panels (DAP). Why? Because we allegedly will take the views of the community into account, whereas independent members allegedly will not.
This article is worth reading and can be accessed here
The afternoon prior to that Focus meeting, as a member of HIA (Housing Industry Association) I read with concern statements made by HIA supporting more than removing elected members from DAP. 
They are looking at removing Councils from the process by using Private Certifiers (currently being utilised to assess building rules consent) to be able to assess Planning applications as well. They are seeking the Private Certifiers being able to certify planning applications that fit within the Res Code, even if located in a Historic Conservation Zone.
I have to say (as a retired builder) that there is good reason behind such a request. I can remember some 5 to 10 years ago waiting 16 weeks for an approval that came only after threatening an eastern suburbs council that we will proceed without their approval and they can take us to court if they don’t like it. 
This is an absurdly long time to obtain approval for a free standing roofed pergola sighted well away from boundaries and visible to no neighbour. This is evidence of the motivation behind the industry taking the stance they have.
Yes 16 weeks is ridiculous but the risk is however if this is taken too far that neighbours will get little or no opportunity to be able to contribute to the development approval process and protect their neighbourhood.
If you have an interest in your neighbourhood and want to avoid losing your ability to contribute to its future built form then I suggest you visit the panels web site at http://www.thinkdesigndeliver.sa.gov.au/home
and find out how you can contribute to this. Bodies such as my HIA will be lobbying hard, so you need to too.
Being involved on both sides I can say without fear or favour that the planning process does need change. as with all things Government everyone with a vested interest needs to contribute to the review so that we don’t come up with a solution that goes from one extreme to the other.
Many people in Unley AND FOCUS contributed to the 30 year plan DPAs. If they had not I think everyone is of the belief the Government would have proceeded down the path they originally touted and Unley would have lost most if not all of its heritage. Instead we have isolated 60% of our area from the 30 year plan higher density formula.
The same is needed with the planning view. It is up to you.

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