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.

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