Influencing the Accredited Professionals Scheme and Assessment Pathways

While the local government elections proceed and we are in caretaker mode, I am still out there working for you. In particular, I am contributing to Council’s response to the Government’s proposed Accredited Professionals Scheme and Assessment Pathways.

As the Government’s reform package does not wait on Council elections it becomes difficult for elected members to have influence over the debate. That has not stopped me however.

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I am offering opinions in two current planning areas that impact on you.  They are the Accredited Professionals Scheme and Assessment Pathways.

Accredited Professionals Scheme

In my opinion, the Accredited Professionals Scheme is sadly lacking and is fraught with danger. The proposed accreditation appears to be quite liberal.

The level of experience for assessment panel members is surprisingly limited. It flies in the face of the previous ministers’ assertions the involvement of Council elected members. He believed elected members largely had an insufficient skillset. The proposed qualifications however for future panel members would curiously allow elected members easy access to the panel.

Likewise, as a retired building inspector, I am concerned that the Level 4 accreditation for building inspectors requires only 6 months experience. It seems we may be moving to a system which allows what I would consider less competency than now. Surely a backwards step.

Assessment Pathways 

I am pushing that Assessment pathways for any development that has variances to the plan such that they impact on the neighbourhood, even if only “minor” should have a public consultation component to them.

We must continue to fight for this. This is because developments invariably will sit outside the parameters set in a development plan.

Assessment must remain with Council rather than with private certifiers when public notification is a requirement. This is because councils are the only body with the availability of being transparent and accountable.

Private Certifiers will never have the level of accountability that Councils have. Even with the number of elected members sitting on assessment panels reduced to one, accountability is only possible with Councils being responsible.

Two extremes of public notification need to be addressed. I am promoting accordingly.

Obviously larger developments must include public notification and this must extend beyond just the immediate neighbours. Rear of house developments regularly however do not impact on other than the immediate neighbour/s. This includes neighbours who live on the other side of the street and cannot see the development. Those not impacted should not be invited to make representation.

If re-elected, I will remain in a position of working for you and providing local leadership on the Accredited Professionals Scheme and Assessment Pathways and all subsequent planning changes.

 

Written & authorised by Don Palmer, 19 Kelvin Avenue, Clarence Park SA 5034

Heritage Preservation at risk under Government’s State Planning Policies

The current Government is intent on rolling out the planning reforms of the previous Government. Communities need to be aware of the policies and procedures being proposed. They need also to know of a lack of heritage preservation therein.

Renewing Our Heritage Planning

 

Your council, as we have with all the stages thus far, is responding to the current step in the process. This process is establishing a raft of draft State Planning Policies. Following on from my earlier blog post today I have been reviewing the City of Unley’s response to the draft.

I am concerned that the Government, like their predecessors, have little regard for local nuances. There appears to be disappointing lack of regard, importance and comprehensive appreciation for heritage by the State. This notwithstanding heritage preservation is a long-standing and well supported priority by the community.

There appears to me a clear focus that they are looking for a universal, one size fits all strategy.

For instance, the scope of the policies in respect of heritage preservation only refer to ‘use’ of places and indigenous heritage. As a minimum there is a need for policies that support way more than this including but limited to:

  • Confirmation from the State that they support for cultural heritage.
  • Recognition of the importance of conserving built heritage.
  • Recognition of both state and local built heritage ‘places’ and ‘areas’ of value, ie Historic Conservation Zones and Contributory Items.

We (you and I) need to fight for better than this.  A greater weight than appears to be being considered needs to be given to heritage preservation. Good planning policy should not ignore heritage.

I am prepared to provide local leadership. A fight against what appears to be an illogical paradigm that preserving our heritage, whether cultural or built form is contrary to sensitive and diverse future development.

Written & authorised by Don Palmer, 19 Kelvin Avenue, Clarence Park SA 5034

 

Light Tension at Goodwood Oval as Saints Seek More illumination.

Our Council Assessment Panel will feel a light tension this Tuesday night. The Panel meets on that night to adjudicate on a single Development Application.

This application has prompted a not so light tension within the local community. This means it is the only application considered on the night.

Goodwood Oval LightsWith 4 independent members and just one elected member they are appointed under the Development Act to represent Council. They must assess applications based on the Act, the Development Regulations and the City of Unley Development Plan.

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On Tuesday night they must decide whether to accept or refuse a Development Application by the Goodwood Saints Football Club. The club is seeking to extend the hours of use of the lights at Goodwood Oval.

As part of the process of determining the fate of the application they have received no fewer than 150 representations. Around half of these oppose the proposed development, half support. Some of those who have provided a representation will take the opportunity to verbally present to the Panel.

The tension between the Club and nearby residents caused by this application should not deter the Panel from their responsibility under the Act. That said I imagine there will be more than just a light tension in the gallery on Tuesday night.

As they exist courtesy of the Development Act and not the Local Government Act the panel cannot be lobbied. This is unlike when Council considers an issue. Even Council can’t influence them.

When the Panel read representations or hear testimonies they must evaluate them in purely development plan terms. This is enhanced with the influence of elected member diminished to just one of five. This courtesy, of course, of the former Planning Minister John Rau.

The big question is, will they agree with the recommendation of Council’s Planning Department who believe the application is not seriously at variance to the Development Plan.

The proposed Kaufland Development on the LeCornu Anzac Highway site is fundamentally flawed.

The proposed Kaufland Development on the LeCornu Anzac Highway site is fundamentally flawed. As I argued in my other blog today it is seriously at variance to the Development Plan.

I argued it is diametrically the opposite of the vision the State Government and the Council have for this site. A vision for medium density housing.

The Government was quite clear in how it looked to house our population into the future. It was by focusing on increasing residential density in the inner rim council areas. The development plan recognises this. The proposal does not. It recreates the carparking focus of the past.

Car parking at grade is a major component of this development. Because of the focus on this, the proposal is seriously at variance to the development plan.

The development plan views this site as primarily in a residential area. To compliment this, one of the Principles of Development Control in the Unley Development Plan states:

“no” vehicle parking is to be located or made visible from the Anzac Highway or Leader Street frontages, except where parking is required for people with a disability.”

In other words, the development plan recognises that parking at grade is a visual eyesore. Parking at grade (at street level) should not be a major part of a residential zone. With its retail focus, this development contravenes this basic principle.

With a focus therefore on anything but residential this development fails miserably. Because it is a retail only project, it is fundamentally flawed. Therefore, it is seriously at variance to the Development Plan.

The State Commission Assessment Panel must surely recognize the complete failure of the development to meet the fundamental requirement of the Development Plan.

Approval by the SCAP will make a mockery of what the Government and Council have endeavoured to achieve in addressing population growth. Taking a site so suited to medium density residential development and focusing it instead on a mega supermarket is diametrically opposite to the vision and should be refused.

Kaufland, Anzac Highway: Seriously at Variance to Unley Development Plan

The proposed Kaufland development on the old Anzac Highway LeCornu site is, I believe, seriously at variance to the Unley Development Plan.

Kaufland, Anzac HighwayAn initial cursory look at the plans last week had me thinking it was not seriously at variance. This was based on recognising only the built form.

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The height of the proposed structure is only 2 storeys. The set back to Anzac Highway well over the allowable 3m. The set back to Leader Street, where it abuts the adjacent residential zone, is 5m rather than the 2m allowed.

Taking an opportunity this week to check  the development proposed more thoroughly revealed to me differently. Without a doubt, the Kaufland proposal is seriously at variance to the development plan.

The Development Plan stems from the recent Ministerial (Specific Sites) DPA. A plan influenced by Council’s input. Input in keeping with our strategy for all Urban Corridor Development Zones within our Council. Input the Government (as previously reported on this blog site) is now using to correct poor design outcomes in other Council areas.

Here is the crunch.

The proposed development is a fully retail development focusing on a mega supermarket. It has no residential component. This is diametrically the opposite of what the then minister, and Council envisaged for this area.

The first two objectives for what is called Policy Area 24 within the plan are as follows:

Objective 1

A medium Density Residential area” supported” by local shops, offices and community spaces.

Objective 2

A highly varied streetscape allowing “multiple” built form design responses that supports innovative housing and mixed-use development.

 

The desired character for the policy area therefore is (as the plan says) to “primarily’ serve a residential function with support “only” of shops, offices etc. There can be no argument therefore. This development therefore is clearly seriously at variance to the intention of the development plan.

The Development Plan goes even deeper. It includes a minimum density requirement. It calls for a minimum density of 45 dwellings per hectare. The development site is 20,950 m2 in size. This means there should be at least 90 homes/units on this site

This surely is a critical requirement. Without even a single house it can therefore seriously only be viewed as seriously at variance to the plan.

This fundamental flaw in the Kaufland Development creates a major conflict for a residential area. My blog today on carparking demonstrates further that it is  seriously at variance to the development plan and should be refused.

Community Engagement Charter Adopted by new State Government

Not quite a month in office and the new Government, through their Minister for Planning Stephan Knoll, has announced the adoption of the Community Engagement Charter.

Stephan Knoll

 

This is the Community Engagement Charter developed by the previous State Government. Let us hope the new government follows the intent of the Charter.

Many in the community believe the previous Government, while waiving the big stick at Councils, did not practice what they preached. This may well have contributed to their election loss.

The announcement is as follows:

The Minister for Planning has announced the adoption and release of the Community Engagement Charter for implementation commencing on 27 April 2018.

Community engagement is at the heart of the new planning system that will be introduced over the next 3-4 years.  The Community Engagement Charter (the Charter) supports new and innovative ways to talk to communities and other interested parties about planning issues.

The Charter changes the way that local and state governments are required to consult with the community during the preparation of changes to planning strategies and policies (such as rezoning of land).

Rather than legislative one-size-fits-all approach the Charter requires those consulting to tailor the engagement to suit the project and the communities who are interested and may be impacted by the proposed changes.

It recognises that with technological advances there are many options to successfully consult with communities. Local and state governments and other bodies consulting on planning matters will be required to meet the following principles in undertaking engagement.

  1. Engagement is genuine
  2. Engagement is inclusive and respectful
  3. Engagement is fit for purpose
  4. Engagement is informed and transparent
  5. Engagement processes are reviewed and improved

The Charter has been informed by a staged consultation starting with the Planning Together Panel and input by a broader stakeholder group.  The Discussion Draft of the Charter was then released for six weeks of public consultation. Following that the Draft Charter was released for another six weeks of public consultation before final amendments were made. More information on the consultation process can be found on the SA Planning Portal.

It is recognised that the Charter will need to evolve over time.  In its first year, it will primarily be applied to the development of the new State Planning Policies, the Planning and Design Code, and Infrastructure Schemes as required under the new Act.

As the State Planning Commission prepares these documents, it will test the Charter and its application to allow for its ongoing evolution. During this time the Commission welcomes ongoing feedback to assist in monitoring and improving the Charter.

A copy of the Community Engagement Charter can be downloaded from the SA Planning Portal http://www.saplanningportal.sa.gov.au/our_new_system/community_engagement_charter:

Planning Process Pains Perpetuated in Fullarton

A sitting of Unley’s Council Assessment panel last night saw how Planning Process Pains Perpetuate. This was in evidence with the approval of a 2-storey development on the corner of Culross Avenue and Fullarton Road.

Approved Development for Culross Avenue and Fullarton Road.

Neighbouring residents turned up on mass to protest a development proposed for that site. They left disillusioned by the Planning Process.

Several neighbours made verbal representations, backing up their written submissions. Unley MP David Pisoni, likely to be the planning minister in the new Government, also made representation.

The Panel approved the development. They did so because the application because it was not significantly at variance to the development plan. This was much to the dismay of the gallery.

Much of their dismay centred on understanding that development plans are not prescriptive, but a guideline. They felt that a minimum in the plan should be just that, a minimum.

Planning is not an exact science. This can even confuse those in the industry.

Opportunity missed in the Planning Process

Most of their dismay centred however in an arena they had control over a few years back. Last year this section of Fullarton Road was rezoned. The then Planning Minister signed off, as part of the planning process, on a development plan amendment.

Residents had an opportunity some 4 to 5 years ago to make representation at this stage of the planning process. Back then there was a proposal to alter our development plan to contribute to the Governments 30-year plan.

Not many did, unlike those in the west. The people in the west turned up in force to protest the changes. More to the point they were successful.

Back then, Jennie & I doorknocked all affected residents in Black Forest. We did so to ensure they received and understood the advice provided them by Council. We found many had not bothered to check the mail. Many also did not understand the potential impact on their neighbourhood. Our mentoring helped them, obviously with contrasting results to what happened in Fullarton.

Ultimately the DPA was split into two. The east was approved by the minister with the west left to be argued later (indefinitely).

This has resulted in a development approved that may not have been contemplated had the east been as informed and proactive as the west obviously was. One of many to come, one suspects.

Please Minister, Follow Unley’s Lead

As the government tries to take the lead on Planning Reform I implore them to follow Unley’s lead.

 

The Department of Planning, Transport & Infrastructure (DPTI), on behalf of the Minister, wrote to us late last year. They put a proposition to us  to co-operate with them as they push ahead with the Government’s planning agenda.

In attempting to take the lead on planning reform they have asked councils to collaborate with them. They are asking us to sign a formal agreement to work with them. An agreement intended as a living document that will adapt as things evolve and change. An agreement recognising the need for a more “formal” elected member involvement and direction.

I implore them to simply follow Unley’s lead. They have agreed with Unley’s approach to good design but this has yet to occur in other council areas.

This week our City Strategy & Policy Committee will be making a recommendation to Council in response to the Government’s request. I expect the committee (of which I am a member) and indeed council to agree to work with them. To facilitate the efficient and effective development and implementation of the new planning system, the co-operation and contribution of local government is pivotal.

In a spirit of continued co-operation and as an investment in better “local” outcomes, a genuine commitment to involvement is warranted. However, this must work both ways.

They (DPTI) need to recognise our understanding of the local environment. They need to follow Unley’s lead. Furthermore, other councils need to follow Unley’s lead.

We have already, with a series of DPAs, achieved the population accommodation required by the Government’s 30-year plan. We achieved this with selective rezoning. It has been achieved with planning principles for transitioning to adjacent residential zones not achieved anywhere else.

Please Minister, whoever you may be after the upcoming election, follow Unley’s lead.

People Power Does Work.

Don’t bother responding to this public consultation. You are wasting your time. They don’t listen to you. Thought that? Heard that?

I am here to tell you that People Power Does Work!

 

The Planning Minister recently advised that 4 of the “specific sites” recently proposed for zoning changes were not included in the approved development plan amendment. He cited significant community opposition as one of the motivators behind his decision.

He also agreed with the reasons given for opposition to those sites expressed by the local community.

The community says no

People power does work.

One of the sites was at Unley Road Malvern. Not many in the community were aware of the proposed changes. Communication by the Government was poor and the reason for this. One of the local elected members for Council, Cr Michael Rabbitt took it upon himself to alert the local community.

Jennie and I did this during DPA 2 a few years back. We made sure that everyone that would be affected by the proposed changes knew that the changes were proposed. We also encouraged, as did Michael this time, the community to put their views forward.

Speaking with Malvern residents yesterday at a celebratory street party I heard how those who spoke out were told by some they were wasting their time. They were told they were that no-one ever listens, that they won’t change the Government’s mind.

Wrong. They were listened to. People power does work. Not only were the listened to, they had the ultimate influence over the minister’s final decision. This, with 3 others  was excluded.

The same occurred with three other sites in other Council areas.

It also occurred with DPA 2 I mentioned above. It occurred with the recent Unley Central DPA where both the Council and the Minister took notice.

People power does work.

Let me finish with a question for you. What is the worst thing that could happen if you don’t speak up?

City Strategy & Development Committee concurs with Local Knowledge Assessment

Last night our City Strategy & Development Committee met and discussed the Ministers two DPAs. Refer my recent blog on the importance of local knowledge in a Development Plan Amendment.

We concurred with the Local Knowledge Assessment by our Mr Brown of the Ministers (Specific Sites) DPA. Led by my observations in support of his assessment and a motion moved by me the committee has recommended Council go further than his recommendation.

As noted in my last blog post Mr Brown provided an in-depth analysis of the Ministers DPA. This analysis demonstrated that the Specific Site DPA did not relate to his Design DPA. It fell well short of the parameters that Unley has previously demonstrated with our DPAs. Parameters that his Design DPA had been based on.

The Committee saw the Ministers DPA this way.

The most significant observations were the zoning the Le Cornu site as a Transit Zone and Unley Road Malvern as High Street. The other observation is the classification of the street behind Cappo as a primary street.

We concurred that the street behind Cappo is a narrow suburban street that should be classified a secondary street. Our recommendation will provide setbacks not provided in the proposed zoning. Setbacks that will soften the interface with the surrounding residential zone. Setbacks that will reduce the height along Chinner.

Both the Le Cornu site and the Malvern site unmistakably should both be business zones with setbacks along both Anzac Highway and Leader street, the latter to protect the interface with the residential zone to the south.

So long as setbacks are recognised we had no difficulty with the heights proposed at Le Cornu. We did however on the Unley Road site. We determined in discussions a height of 4 storeys, or even 3 with Business zone setbacks rather than high street. But we went further.

We determined that it was inappropriate that this site be included in the DPA. In a climate of low population growth, it was not necessary to isolate this site from its surrounds. Council has provided opportunity for significant growth (say 200 people) just down the road in the District Centre. This site we believe would potentially compete in a low market with the District Centre and the latter surely should be encouraged first.

Now, let us wait on whether Council concurs in two weeks or whether they would prefer changes to this recommendation.