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.

The importance of local knowledge in a Development Plan Amendment

Tomorrow night we will see demonstrated the importance of local knowledge in a Development Plan Amendment (DPA).

 

A report from our Policy Planning Officer Mr David Brown on the Minister’s Corridors DPA will be received by Council’s City Strategy and Development Policy committee tomorrow night.

The DPA is a site specific DPA, including (in Unley) 4 sites;

  • The Le Cornu site at Forestville
  • The Cappo site on Glen Osmond Road
  • 12-30 Anzac Highway Everard Park
  • 299-307 Unley Road, Malvern

We will consider the DPA with the help of his analysis. The committee will then make recommendations to Council.  Council can then consider in to weeks times making similar representation to the Minister.

Honestly, the Minister could do with having David Brown on his staff at DPTI. David’s analysis has identified a plethora of anomalies/discrepancies in the DPA.

There are discrepancies between the DPA and Unley’s previous parameters set in our Corridor DPA. Discrepancies also indeed between this DPA and his concurrent running (design) DPA (also being considered tomorrow night).

Too many to highlight in a blog post. Sufficient, that said, to demonstrate the folly of the Government’s move to progressively take Council out of the planning process. Sufficient to demonstrate that a State or Regional Government does not and cannot identify with local nuances.

I will be keen to hear the input of our independent members into the DPA and into David’s analysis.

His analysis should be the catalyst for quite a comprehensive representation on our part to the Minister. It is to be hoped that he takes on board our observations and suggestions, whatever they wind up being after Council considers the committee’s recommendations in two weeks’ time.

I believe the importance of local knowledge in a Development Plan Amendment will be demonstrated tomorrow night.

If you want to see David’s in depth analysis check it out here, item 9.

Minister Rau announces new DPA to focus on specific sites.

The Minister today announced a change in direction with his program of Development Plan Amendments. He announced a new DPA to focus on specific sites.

This DPA is known as ‘the Inner and Middle Metropolitan Corridor (Sites) Development Plan Amendment”.

In making the announcement he acknowledged difficulties with the Corridor DPA’s. He recognises too the redevelopment along the corridors may be a future thing rather than an early or soon thing. This means those incomplete or not commenced Corridor DPA’s will be put on hold.

The Minister is aware that there are sites that are ready to be redeveloped sooner rather than later. They have been identified too as being good opportunities for incorporating the other DPA he announced today, “the Inner & Middle Metropolitan Corridor (Design) Development Plan Amendment”.

He is focused therefore on a new DPA to focus on specific sites that provide the opportunity for early redevelopment.

Twelve sites in all have been identified. Six of these are in the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters. There are two in our neighbour, the City of West Torrens

For Unley this focus is on the following four sites:

  1.  12-16 Glen Osmond Road (The Cappo seafood site)
  2.  301-305 Unley Road Malvern (between Cheltenham & Winchester Street)
  3.  10 Anzac Highway (The Le Cornu site)
  4.  22-28 Anzac Highway, Everard Park (between KFC and Solver)

All 4 sites could be considered a catalyst site. A site where development might occur sooner rather than later.

Both DPA’s are open for public consultation as of tomorrow. Submissions are required by 25 July. A public information session has been set for City of Unley participants on 22 June between 4.00 pm and 6.30 pm. It will be held at the Latvian Hall, 4 Clark Street Wayville.

I encourage all who have shown an interest in the recent series of DPA’s to take the opportunity to look at this one, and take part in the consultation.

There is no end in sight to DPA’s as the Minister makes announcement

There is no end in sight to DPA’s as the Minister announced today that he has been listening to us. Demonstrating this he has announced two DPA’s pertinent to the City of Unley.

I attended on behalf of the City of Unley.

Minister Rau explained that he has been listening. He accepts he and indeed the City of Prospect have failed to provide quality developments along Churchill Road.

I heard him to say that good design is not all about getting the maximum financial result from a development. Good development must relate to its neighbourhood.

This has been the core of what we have tried to achieve here at Unley. We can all take great heart that we have led the way toward better design outcomes.

What has been learnt has been incorporated into a new “Inner & Middle Metropolitan Corridor (Design) Development Plan Amendment”.In so doing he is recognising the work that the City of Unley put into it’s corridor plan and more recently into the Unley Central DPA.

Much of the DPA focuses on the interface with surrounding suburban residential zones  and the street interface. It addresses too, environmental issues.

It would appear on the face of it that this is being incorporated in to the other DPA relevant to Unley. That is the “Inner & Middle Metropolitan Corridor (Sites) Development Plan Amendment”, which is the subject of another blog.

Both DPA’s are open for public consultation as of tomorrow. Submissions are required by 25 July. A public information session has been set for City of Unley participants on 22 June between 4.00 pm and 6.30 pm. It will be held at the Latvian Hall, 4 Clark Street Wayville.

I encourage all who have shown an interest in the recent series of DPA’s to take the opportunity to look at this one, and take part in the consultation.

Sorrybut there is no end in sight to DPA’s.

 

Unley Central DPA has finally been put to bed

The Unley Central DPA has finally been put to bed in what has been a lengthy process. A process of continual community consultation stretching between 2 and 3 years. Hopefully.

Council last night sat to decide on the final draft of the Unley Central DPA and in so doing, the Unley Central DPA has finally been put to bed. The final draft that will be submitted to the Minister for his decision.

The Minister may yet come back to us and seek a change or changes. It is my belief that if he does it is unlikely to concern our recommendations on the east side of Unley Road, the Civic Centre and Village Green site.

Looking back at my blog post of 21 February I can say that Council and its community have worked together. The input of two representative groups, FOCUS and SOS Unley Village Green, were invaluable.

They both recognised that we needed to be careful not to put something to the Minister that would prompt him to reject our work and take the DPA over. They have contributed to a result I trust is acceptable to the Minister, John Rau.

Those two groups showed leadership with their revised submissions at last Monday night’s council meeting. It took “guts” to do this. It did displease some of the FOCUS members. That is leadership.

We will be submitting the following to the Minister focusing on maximum building heights in each of the following areas:

  • west of the Soldiers Memorial Gardens – 18.5 metres (5 storeys).
  • north of the Memorial Gardens and south of Arthur Street – 18.5 metres (7 storeys)
  • north of Arthur Street (Target, Bazaar and Haddad sites) – 32.5 metres (9 storeys)
  • east of Unley Road north of Oxford Terrace – 18.5 metres (5 storeys)
  • on the northern side of Oxford Terrace – 11.5 metres (3 storeys)
  • Council Civic Area – also 11.5 metres (3 storeys) with 1 storey to Edmund Avenue, Rugby Street & eastern end of Oxford Terrace – the Committee recommended 5 and 2 storeys respectively

We also determined to keep the Village Green in its current location and to exclude residential development from the Community Area east of Unley Road to the south of Oxford Terrace.

Council face a DPA balancing act.

Last Tuesday night’s Unley Central DPA public forum has presented Council face a DPA balancing act. A juggle between Community and the Government.

mom-cat-balancing-act

 

Yes, after your recent input we face a DPA balancing act. We must recognise genuine concern from rate payers. At the same time, we must put a submission to the Minister for Planning, the honourable John Rau, that he will respect and not throw back in our faces.

As I noted in my last blog post we will be looking at all submissions and we will identify what we can realistically use and what we will need to carefully consider before altering.

On the one hand, we run the risk of members of our community rejecting our next draft. On the other hand, we run the risk that the Minister will reject our submission to him.

We run the risk that he will see us as abrogating our responsibility. If this happens he will rule what happens and ignore us. The result for our community will be worse than what some believe is now the case with what we are proposing.

Minister Rau could quite easily rule that the DPA will see only one change to the zone.

John-Rau-3883-850x455

 

That change would be to permit residential development. Residential development is currently the only restriction in this zone. There is no height limit, other than that imposed by the Airport.

Forget 11 storeys. Expect 25 storeys and more. Forget 3 storeys on the east side of Unley Road. The heights that apply now north of Unley Central along Unley Road is 5 storeys.

So, the challenge for Council is to put heights to the Minister that he will see as having a rationale acceptable to him. As I said above if we come back with a negative submission you, the community of Unley, will regret that Council did not work for the best possible outcome for them.

I am sure we will come back to you before any changes are put to the Minister. I ask you to show the maturity and the understanding I know the Unley community has, to work with us to ensure we can reasonably face a balancing act and have some control over the end result.

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.

Unley Central DPA public consultation running out.

You have just over one month to go to contribute to the final Unley Central DPA submission to the Minister. If you have a say in writing you can attend a public meeting to enhance your observations before council.

 

This blog post is an update on my post of 24 September which can be read here.

Two information sessions have been held. I attended both to gauge public reaction to the final draft. As the deadline for submissions gets closer I encourage you all to have a say. Don’t wait for a development near you to be proposed to express your concerns. It will be too late.

I am encouraged by the mature approach that those who attended the information sessions showed. They recognise that Unley’s approach has been to work with the Government rather than fight them. We were congratulated for limiting the impact on our community, even though concern still exists over what is proposed.

Some confusion exists still however as to why we are undertaking this process. Examples follow.

One attendee at the information sessions was critical of us because we did not get a mandate at the last Council election to carry out this DPA. He mistakenly believes therefore what we are doing is illegal. The Council actually has a legal obligation to pursue this DPA.  If we fail to do it the Minister can do it on our behalf under the Local Government Act 1999.

Of course the Government did take this to the last state election, and the previous.

20161011_102241Someone else is mistakenly letter boxing a claim that council is going to build an 8 storey complex on the village green. If you are confused a DPA is NOT a proposal to develop property. It merely sets the guidelines with which future proposed developments are assessed.

Please be assured also the DPA does not propose 8 storey development on the Village Green. The Village Green is retained under the draft DPA. It could indeed be reconfigured and even increased in size.

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.

 

 

Some thoughts from my dual hats of Planning Reforms

I have watched with interest the debate that has prevailed in recent times over Minister Rau’s planning reforms.

As a builder I have great empathy for the lengthy times it takes to get the most minor of projects through the planning system. As a councillor on the other hand I have true respect for the role the community plays in ensuring that development in their area is appropriate.

 

Interestingly the people frustrated at both ends can be the same people on different sides of the fence for the next development.

Builders and therefore their clients (you and your neighbours)  are rightfully frustrated by the time it takes to get an approval for their development, more often than not an addition to their own home. Councils have borne the focus of the angst that has created, often seen as the meddling cause of the delays. You are likely to have been a council critic. I know I have.

The truth is the system, as designed by the state government, is the cause not councils. There have been many changes proposed in the bill the minister has put before Parliament that are good. They will definitely help to improve the system significantly.

There are changes proposed that need to be at the forefront of change but which will be delayed due to I understand the cost of implementing them. I speak specifically about setting up a date based development plan regime. This is an area that should have  a focus long before those who may participate ion the approval process are questioned.

A major focus for the ministers bill is focused unfortunately on who may be involved however. He is set on  removing both residents and elected members of council out of the approval process.

I intend in the next 24 hours or so to put my thoughts on the removal of both residents and elected members from the process in separate blog posts.

So watch this space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodwood Oval Phone Tower a litmus test for Council’s DAP

I will be watching with interest the upcoming decision by Council’s DAP on the Goodwood Oval Phone Tower proposed proposed by Vodafone. It may well prove a litmus test for the Government’s proposed changes to the Development Act.

 

A number of residents have been confused as to Council’s role in this process. In particular some are of the belief that our elected members should be standing up to whoever is proposing this and saying hands off. They say this on the understanding that there will be only one view without and before knowing if that is in fact the case.

Having said that, if I were a betting man, I would say that is the case.

The fact of the matter is there is a due process that must be followed under state legislation. Council must receive the application and cannot refuse to receive it. That said the Act does allow means for public participation in certain circumstances and the phone tower is one such circumstance.

Beyond that the process provides a mechanism by which the application should be judged. In some cases this is the responsibility of the paid officers of the planning department of council. In others, including this one, that responsibility is vested in the hands of a panel known as the development Assessment Panel or DAP.

It is their job to read and understand the application and the planning officer’s report and recommendation. They must also read and understand any representation made by the public on the matter. They have to determine if the observations made in any representation, whether supporting the application or rejecting the application, is valid under the terms of the development plan.

The State Minister for Planning (and Deputy Premier) John Rau has sited often that elected members sitting on Council DAPs are making politically expedient decisions on planning matters rather than assess the application on is merits against the development plan. This is one of the core reasons why he wants to see councils and in particular elected members removed from the planning assessment process.

Many people in the street, frustrated by perceived delays in getting their 2 storey addition passed through council would probably agree with the minister. The very same people are critical then of Mr Rau for having already taken the power away from councils on high rise developments.

Our DAPs handling of the Goodwood Oval phone tower may well prove a litmus test on the minister’s move to take Council out of the development process. How the individual members of the DAP vote will at least.

Will the elected members vote the same as the independent members? Will the elected members be split in their vote? Will the independents be split in their vote? Will the elected members vote one way and the independents vote the opposite way?

Hmmmmm!