Councillor Don Palmer Providing Local Leadership & Working for You

It has taken me a while to get to read the storey from earlier this week titled Planning Minister John Rau wants councils to be restricted to approving only small developments such as carports, fences and tennis courts. Now that I have read it I am taken aback at the shear ignorance of the head of Planning in this State.

Mr Rau, let me tell you it is not who is running the system that is at fault it is the system itself. And I warn those in the public who have ad a bad experience and think Mr Rau is on the money be careful what you wish for. Don’t don’t blame the deliverer blame those who designed the system and that is the State Government, the same body that are embarking on a plan now that will cost more and deliver no better results.

I remember being taught when I first started in management that when you find something is not working in the business look to adjust the system rather than blame whoever is using the system. You and your panel, as I see it after reading their brief, have not done this.You are creating another level of bureaucracy and let me warn you after spending much in the way of tax payer money you will not see improvement in the system.

Let us establish one thing right up front. The system and those running the system get it right from the point of view of decisions being overturned by the court. 99.95% of projects that come through the system and not overturned by the courts indicate the current process gets it right.

The problem as the article in the Advertiser put it is the length of time that it takes to get the approval. As someone who works both sides of the system I believe I know the problem and he solution is and it is simple.

Yes it takes too long and yes, as a builder, I too have suffered in Burnside. I have also seen, as an elected member serving on the City of Unley Development Assessment Panel, that the reasons for inviting representation from the public and the selection of who gets that chance is flawed.

You pick that carports, fences and tennis courts as the only thing that Councils are qualified to judge. Notwithstanding the statistics I quoted above that disputes this even these structures can be held up in the system because of the nature of the public representation.

Here it is Mr Rau.

Instead of encouraging neighbours to talk before a job comes to council and I talk of projects such as carports etc the system (designed by Government) requires public representation form people who in living only up to 60 metres away but who cannot even see the development the right to challenge the proposal. That is what clogs up the system.

It is a system that gives rights to people who are NOT affected by a proposal to voice their opinion and democratic right. It is based on giving that person a belief that they can influence development in their street. A democratic right if you will.

The truth is their representation is often not based on the planning principles the panel has to judge the development by and therefore is ignored by the panel. The truth then is they come away confused, frustrated and upset that their opinion was ignored.

Anyone who knows this having experienced it or anyone whose project has been delayed by this don’t blame your council. It is the system that created it and that is a Government responsibility. They created that environment, not the Council.

Most of these smaller type projects exist in the back yard and are likely to impact on only one neighbour. Yes ONE neighbour. If we went BACK to a system that encourages a home owner to seek the approval from their neighbour before submitting it the system would not get clogged up so much dealing with the smaller and more insignificant jobs which the current system does.

We had this once and we could easily reintroduce it. Trust me, having worked it from both sides, I know. Back in those good ol’ days I would get the neighbour to sign a copy of the plan for a verandah that exists on the boundary, take the proposal into council and get an approval the same day in some councils and no more than a week in most.The same development with the same result takes under the current regime of public representation no less than three months.

Understand that the system is the problem not who runs it Mr Rau. And stop kicking local government.

Thank God Mr Rau is not the Minister for Local Government. If he were we would likely no longer exist in favour of a body that has no connection to local communities.