Unley Community responds to the Unley Central DPA

What a night it was last Tuesday. Council hosted the community around the Unley Central Precinct. A night of emotion. A night to remember.

Unley Central PrecinctIt is back to the drawing board as the Unley Community responds to the Unley Central DPA.

Last Tuesday night Council’s City Strategy and Development committee hosted a public forum. The forum allowed rate payers to further clarify their written submissions to Council’s Unley Central DPA.

Approximately 200 people provided written submissions and around 40 backed up these submissions on the night. Most but not all were against the draft proposals.

We received some valuable input from many. Input as to how we might change the draft before putting it to the Minister for approval.

I am sure the Committee and indeed Council will take these on board.

We must be careful though not to allow ourselves to get sucked into accepting misplaced submissions. There were several these. I have thoughts on this that will be the subject of another Blog post.

Many rate payers have forgotten that we (Council and rate payers alike) all agreed back in 2006 to put a proposition to the Minister. The proposition was to protect our historic conservation zones and our streetscape zones. We offered the Minister increased density in the main street corridors and in Unley Central.

What we have found as we have rolled out the various localised DPA’s is that many in our community have forgotten this. We have also found that the keep forgetting that this is not Council driven but Government driven. Our ongoing communication, written and verbal,  is probably responsible for this.

I remind our community that if we don’t conduct these DPAs the Minsiter will do it on our behalf. If this were to happen we lose all control and the result will NOT be to anyone’s liking.

We have also found that our rate payers inevitably believe that we should be focusing on other areas to rezone. In other words, they are in opposition to rezoning their area in favour of rezoning other areas. What these people do not understand is that all areas of council apart from the zones including the Le Cornu site which was raised several times in the submissions received.

The Future of Local Heritage in SA-Unley’s Response

The Government is asking us (everyone) to contribute to determining what is the future of Local Heritage in SA.

 

The City of Unley Council discussed this at our Council meeting last night. The debate in our chamber coincided with a public forum sponsored by the the City of Adelaide in the Adelaide Town Hall. A pity because I would not have minded being a fly on the wall in that room on the night.

We endorsed at our meeting the observations of our Development Strategy & Policy (DSP) Committee (chaired by myself) on what is the future of Local Heritage in SA.

DSP focused on the brief provided by DPTI and the Minister. Focusing on the contents of the brief and solutions rather than engaging in the 2 way vitriol that has caught the attention of the media was our preference. The committee in turn endorsed the work of the Local Government Association and our Senior Policy Planner David Brown with some further observations including:

 

• Conversion of the existing heritage and character provisions, and subsequent review processes, must maintain an equal status for such areas

• Court Appeal rights regarding listing being extended to Council is strongly advocated

• On-merit assessment for local heritage demolition is appropriate, providing the critical robust planning policy criteria is maintained

• Future criteria for listing of local heritage items to be clear and agreed with Council,

 

The observations of the Local Government Association and the observations included in Mr Brown’s report to Coucnil can be found on our website page here.

Your Council is demonstrating in the most  pragmatic way their response to the Minister’s calling. Frustrated as we may be like all others in Local Government we are trying to take a mature approach. Hopefully reasoned debate on our part may influence the Minister to see what he hitherto has not.

 

What is the future of Local Heritage in SA?

The Government is asking us (everyone) to contribute to determining what is the future of Local Heritage in SA.

 

I attended, along with Deputy Mayor Michael Rabbitt and members of our management, a Seminar last Wednesday hosted by the Lord Mayor and the City of Adelaide. The topic essentially was what is the future of local heritage in SA.

John-Rau-3883-850x455The Planning Minister John Rau spoke at the Seminar. A number of invited guests who each extolled the economic benefit of Local Heritage also spoke.

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The Minister went to great pains to indicate that he is yet to take a position. He pushed that he was simply starting the conversation. The audience took a different view. They saw the Minister trying to pull on over on them. He did not take kindly as I have seen him do before in public to the assertions that he was hiding the detail from us.

I support the audience’s view, and that of the following speakers, that the Minister is struggling with a basic concept of what is the difference between heritage and character.

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The Minister appears not to recognise the value of “Heritage Character”.

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He sees heritage as pertaining to a building and character to a collection of buildings. He also, it appears, sees Local Heritage as restricting employment opportunities. Preservation is in the way of development opportunities and the employment that comes with that.

This is not how those with whom he found himself in conflict see it. They see areas/precincts/streets, not just buildings, as having historic value. Some areas, in other words, require protection as much as some buildings.

Each of the speakers spoke in contrast on his economic argument. They argued that Heritage preservation is a positive when looking at local employment. Their addresses (and the ministers) will be available soon on the City of Adelaide website.

I too see the need to protect areas as opposed to simply buildings. The City of Unley does also. The City of Unley, as much as any other municipality within the greater metropolitan area, is indeed testimony to this.

Tonight Council will be considering our response and I will report on this for you.

I now ask you. What is the Future of Local Heritage in SA in your opinion? Do you agree with the Minister or do you see his agenda as potentially destroying local heritage for the sake of redevelopment opportunities?

 

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.

Reminder to have your say on Unley Central

A month ago today I blogged on the Unley Central Precinct project and asked for your input. That blog can be viewed here.

 

Thank you those of you who have already responded to the survey with the letter we sent you on the 5th of this month. The feedback we have received will be very useful when later next year we start putting together a Development Plan Amendment.

Unley-Central-Concept-Image-for-YSUThose of you who have not yet responded to the survey we encourage to so do. Your thoughts on such matters as traffic, transport and parking will be essential as we attempt to create a Development Plan that meets Council’s vision for the Unley Central Precinct and the goals of the State Governments 30 Year Plan.

We have received some very worthwhile input from residents thus far and look forward to receiving more. We ask those of you have yet to respond to do so.

What we are looking for from you are your thoughts on the importance of a variety of impacts higher density development will have on the centre or heart of our City. This will provide us considerations on how to plan for the desired urban design, built form, land use, traffic, transport, and parking to guide the preparation of a Development Plan Amendment for the area. This DPA we hope to work on and present to the minister late next year after consulting with you on its contents.

We expect to invite your further input between now and commencing on the DPA once we can tabulate and prioritise the feedback we receive from you on this first consultation.

Councils vision as part of complying with the State Governments 30 year Plan recognised not just the built form but identified opportunities to improve the public realm and the movement through the area. A copy of this plan is available at www.unley.sa.gov.au/major-projects. This has prompted the series of questions to help guide your input.

Now it’s your turn. Please help us create a city of the future that can and does accommodate population growth but in a way that enhances the lifestyle of those living there.

Summary of my thoughts on the Draft Planning Bill

In this 5th post on the subject of the draft Planning Bill introduced into Parliament by Minister Rau I will summarise the thoughts I have made public in my previous 4 blogs. With luck Mr Rau might take my thoughts on board in lieu of branding me too as one of those morons who dont understand development and planning.

 

Planning reform IS necessary. Everyone agrees with this. Everyone’s views on this are influenced by their involvement. I wear two hats, one as a builder and one as a resident and another as an elected member. My thoughts therefore have an empathy with all who have to operate in the system.

PLANNING AND INFRASTRUCTURE BILL 2015.UN.PDFAs the Bill is debated in Parliament the focus should deal with where the system needs improving. It should recognize the role everyone has to play and not focus on removing those seen as interfering with the process. Removing residents, removing councillors, indeed removing councils does nothing to help create a better system, All it does is create the opportunity for unregulated development.

 

 

Removing residents from the approval end of the process whilst understood by me fails to recognise that this is the part in the process they are best able and capable of participating in. Fixing the system will identify when and where they can contribute rather than waste their time when their involvement is not able to influence.

Removing elected members takes any potential conflict away but also prohibits those with possibly the best empathy for a street or suburb. This must surely reduce the chances of a good outcome.

Shifting focus of public participation might sound OK in principle in that it IS at the concept stage when we truly want the input of our residents. Doing so then would in theory avoid the frustration of seemingly not being heard at the end of the process. Achieving this is like leading a horse to water and expecting him to drink. He will when thirsty and that is when there is a development proposed next door.

I implore everyone in Government; the Minister and his colleagues, those in opposition, members of the Legislative Council to look closely at the changes proposed by this bill. Think hard about what issues will be created by implementing it, anticipate its flaws.

Be careful in blaming Councils as the Minister has repeatedly done. Shifting the deck chairs never has and never will solve the problem. Who will be responsible for planning decisions in the future. Minister Rau indicated back in (from memory) August last year that Councils (the Morons he referred to a month ago) are only competent enough to approve fences and carports   think it was.

The same people (paid officers) making these decisions will be the ones employed by the regional bodies making the new decisions, unless of course they are going to put out of work.

Shifting Focus of Public Consultation

In the second of this series of blogs I noted that the minister believes that the focus of public involvement in the development planning process shoudl be at the stage of development plan amendments not at the assessment stage.

 

His logic has good but limited reasoning behind it. The best time for public to be involved is at the time a development plan is being evolved or amended. This is when the legislators can be influenced by the observations provided by the public. Without contribution from you (a resident in the affected area) the parameters are set and you have under the current system little chance to influence the approval of development under that development plan. That is of course no guarantee that they will; take notice that is.

Under the current system you do get a say at the approval stage and as discussed in a previous blog perhaps on occasions when the approvers will have scant regard your observations because they are irrelevant on the day. The 2 storey addition in a 2 storey zone previously noted is evidence of this.

Under Mr Rau’s draft bill you will not get a say at all at the approval stage in favour of involving you only at the development of the plan stage. As I indicated previously this in my opinion will require the largest ever education program ever undertaken by the State…..and we know that wont happen.

 

th (1)It is simply a fact that most people will not be motivated during a development plan amendment because it is not relevant to them. Planning is a subjective beast and somewhat abstract when authorities are promoting a district wide change. It is a pity we cant get more people involved at that stage but try as we will while you can lead a horse to water you cant make him drink. That is unless he is thirsty.

 

And thirsty is what he/she will be when there is a specific project proposed next door to them.

Under the draft bill this horse will not be offered a chance to drink when thirsty because legislation will not allow it. The pond will be fenced off.

This discriminates against members of a community in the event of a development that does not meet the development plan Mr Rau wanted them to contribute to when they had little interest.

So as much as I said in yesterdays blog that if a proposed development complies with the development plan it should not be subject to public scrutiny if it exceeds the parameters of the plan then it should absolutely definitely be open to public scrutiny and not left to paid employees or a remote DAP with little empathy for the street to decide.

Unley’s Development Assessment Panel was influenced recently (as reported in a separate blog) by logical argument from residents over a phone tower at the Goodwood Oval which was non complying development and yet was proposed to be approved by the professionals.

So Minister you would have us contribute at the concept stage of creating a plan and then allow any development whether complying or not to be left in the hands of those who wont be impacted by the development, whether good or bad development.

 

 

 

 

 

Elected Member contribution to planning and development

The Minister is not wrong when he identifies the conflict faced by elected members sitting on Development Assessment Panels.

I understand and respect the concerns he has in respect of the pressure that being placed in an adjudication role has on someone whose primary role on Council requires a popular vote to retain.

 

As someone too from private enterprise I struggle with appointments made in the public arena based not on skill but a whole heap of politically correct criteria. Criteria that spells out everyone has an equal right to acquire a certain position.

In other words, I struggle with people who do not have building, planning or legal expertise sitting on development assessment panels. I sense that my colleagues at Unley view this similarly. They twice voted me to fill one of the elected member positions on our DAP in favour of others without my background who stood against me at the time. Had I stood for a 3rd term I suspect they would likely have repeated their support.

The City of Unley has in respect of appointing independent members to our DAP been mindful that one of the qualifications we want is someone who is not only a planner or whatever specialist discipline relative to sitting on our panel but someone who has an empathy with our neighbourhood.

Where two people of equal skill-set applies the one who lives in Unley I believe is likely in my opinion to get the nod.

Enter the Elected Member. This is precisely what the elected member brings to the table. An absolute empathy for the neighbourhood in which they live because they … live there. An elected member often has a better appreciation of a development given their connection to the street in which the development is proposed and their connection to the community through their role as an elected member.

Is it the most important contribution a panel member can bring to the DAP. No; because decisions must be made based on the development plan. It is not far behind though.

The current formula is a good one I believe and not in need of change where the focus on the plan out-ways the empathy provided by an elected member 4 to 3 on the panel of 7.

And what if the elected member is a planner or an architect, or a lawyer. What then Mr Rau. You are suggesting these people would not be compromised as independent members because they are professionals but they would be if an elected member…..because they are no longer professionals perhaps?

And I modestly suggest Unley, with its complex planning regime has got it right the whole time I have been a member. Very few decisions are challenged and of those that have been sent to the ERD court less than a handful have been overturned.

Residents contribution to planning and development

A major change in the current reform as noted in my earlier blog posts today is taking away the rights of individuals, neighbours to make representations on developments that will impact on their property.

 

On the surface this is not unreasonable as I put my Builder hat on. What has frustrated me as a builder are such things under the current system as when a permitted development (ie 2 storey in a 2 storey zone) is delayed to allow the neighbours to represent against the development because it is 2 storey.

Public notification on a project that complies is a nonsense in that representation will not change the minds of those charged with deciding whether or not to approve the development. It gives the representor an unrealistic expectation that they may influence the decision and extend the time it takes for the inevitable approval.

This is a Government issue not a council issue because Schedule 9 of the State Government’s Development Regulations 2008 triggers the call for public participation. If council did not do this then a neighbour could contest any decision made on that application.

The regulations SHOULD change to address this.

Problem is with the ministers proposal is that there will be no ability for the public to respond if the development proposed does not comply with the relevant development plan.

Here is the dilemma. Four years on our DAP qualifies me to suggest that many (if not a majority of) applications exceed the provisions of the development plan. His bill takes away your right as a neighbour to have a say on a project say 2 storey in a single storey zone.

As a builder I always tried and inevitably did design developments that complied with the relevant development plan. The result of this is most of my applications were passed in a very short space of time. Surely those who choose to push the boundaries should expect the process to take longer to ensure due process has been applied.

The minister is justifying his bill by indicating that people have the chance to contribute at the time a development plan is being implemented or undergoing an amendment. Look out for a subsequent blog for my thoughts on this.

 

 

Your Say on the Future of Unley Central

To help guide new development and achieve the goals of the Government’s 30 year plan Council needs to change it’s development plan to accommodate the future of Unley Central.

This is something we must do as our development plan is required by law to reflect the strategic planning of the State Government. Noting this, Council’s vision for our city is that we be recognised for our “vibrant community spirit, quality lifestyle choices, business strength and innovative leadership.

To help realise this vision we conducted a study into the potential for higher and denser building forms to achieve new commercial and residential developments in and around the District Centre of Unley.

The result was we produced in 2014 the Unley Central Precinct Plan.Unley-Central-Concept-Image-for-YSU

This plan recognised not just the built form but identified opportunities to improve the public realm and the movement through the area. A copy of this plan is available at www.unley.sa.gov.au/major-projects

We have now engaged a consultant team lead by URPS to provide recommendations on the desired urban design, built form, land use, traffic, transport,  and parking to guide the preparation of the planning policy. This is where you come in.

We encourage you to have your say by reviewing the information on the web site or by attending one of our forums as listed below this week. You can then provide your thoughts and suggestions by completing a survey, meeting a member of the consultant team, reviewing the website or by contacting Angela Hazebroek or Michael Arman at URPS on 8333 7999 or [email protected]

The forums are as follows:

at the Unley Library

on Thursday 19 November 2015 between 6.00pm and 8.00pm

on Saturday 21 November between 1.00pm and 3.00pm

at the Unley Shopping Centre

on Thursday 19 November between 3.00pm and 5.00pm

on Saturday 21 November between 10.00am and 12 noon.

This is about the future of Unley Central. If you care about Unley now is the time to contribute. It will be too late under the Minister for Planning’s proposed changes to the Development Act if you wait to respond to development on the block next door to you in 5 years time. Please provide us your views by Friday 4 December, 2015.