What We Have Heard, But the Question is Have They Listened.

The State Planning Commission have published “what we have heard” from the recent public consultation on the proposed South Australian Planning & Design Code. The question is have they listened.

Planning & Design Phase 3The Commission has advised us we’ll prepare an engagement report on what we have heard for the Minister for Planning. Any policy decisions he makes will inform the final version of the Planning & Design Code.

But will that report just be a copy of the what we have heard document provided the community. Or will it be a document responding to our observations and making recommendations to the Minister regarding each of the observations we have made.

From what they have told us this is not evident. Accordingly there are many in the community doubting that their input has been valued.

What I can tell you after perusing what they have heard document is that they appear to have acknowledged all the observations we have made.

 

Black Forest and Clarence Park residents can take some comfort that they have recognised our many submissions. Particularly where requesting the zoning be upgraded from the generic general neighbourhood zone to a suburban neighbourhood zone with technical numerical variations matching that which currently exists.

The wider Unley community should likewise feel their submissions have been heard. This includes recognising the many heritage issues raised including contributory items and demolition controls. Likewise recognition of our observations regarding tree canopy cover, soft soil zones.

They have even recognised lifting cill heights of 2nd floor windows from 1.5m back to the 1.7m that exists in our development plan.

Also acknowledged is our request to delay the process, redraft the Code and give us another opportunity to contribute.

 

Recognising what we have said is a great 1st step.

 

The question remains, have they (or the Minister) listened enough to make the alterations we have asked for. Unfortunately what we are hearing is the Minister has no intention to delay the implementation.

Please Mr Knoll. Hear us.

City of Unley is Leading the way and speaking up.

My last blog showed how the Black Forest/Clarence Park community responded to the Government’s Planning & Design Code (PDC). In numerous other posts, while I have trusted the Government’s intention I have questioned their ability to get the Planning reforms right.

In this blog I wish to highlight what Council is doing. I can say the City of Unley is leading the way and speaking up in analysing the Code.

 

Planning & Design CodeWe (Council) have devoted significant resources to analysing the PDC. We found this was necessary due to the size and detail of the draft Code. Likewise because it is full of errors & omissions. Errors & omissions that do not uphold the Minister’s promise of transitioning like for like. Errors & omissions (on reflection) that must be inevitable in transitioning 72 Council Development Plans into the Code .

Our administration have provided an in-depth analysis into the entire document. Our City, Strategy Committee unanimously approved my motion supporting that work as our submission to the Government. Council last night endorsed the committee’s recommendations.

 

This submission goes well beyond the issues I have recently raised in this forum. It certainly mirrors my observations of the problems in the draft code but goes further.

 

It replicates also my observations as to how to address these problems. That is to transition the current RB350 zone into (not the General Neighbourhood Zone but) the Suburban Neighbourhood Zone. Likewise, to transition the current numerical values contained in the RB350 Zone into the Technical Numeric Variation Overlay of the Suburban Neighbourhood Zone.

It mirrors (as one would expect) my belief that Council’s should not only be re included as a contributor to future Code changes, but they should take a lead role. It also highlights the sense in delaying the introduction until it is ready for implementation.

There is so much more, the detail of which is too great to simply highlight in a blog post. Should you want more information on Council’s submission you can find it here.

Black Forest & Clarence Park speak up.

Watch as the rate payers of Black Forest & Clarence Park speak up against a false promise by the Minister for Planning.

 

The Minister (Stephan Knoll) and the Chair of the State Planning Commission (Michael Lennon) have publicly suggested by inference that their current Council Development zone RB350 will be transitioned with little or no change in to the new Planning & Design Code. The ratepayers are only too aware however of the significant differences that are and that this is NOT FACT. Differences highlighted in my blog post of 16 December.

PDC Public Meeting

Residents attending Black Forest/Clarence Park PDC Public Meeting

Around 100 people attended a meeting held by my Co-Councillor & I. Many more have also attended house meetings I spoke at.  I have, as I am sure Jennie has, spoken one on one with many others. Even more have learned by word of mouth.

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PDC in Black Forest

Residents attending Black Forest/Clarence Park PDC Public Meeting

The community is engaged. They have responded to my blog post of 8 January among other things. As a result, they are likely to inundate the Department, with expressions of feedback. Likewise the Minister.

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Thanks to my in-depth analysis noted in my 16 December blog, they are aware of the changes. An analysis that 95% of people simply would not be able to do for themselves.

The community is frustrated. Many, believing they are being targeted, are incensed at the Government.

Some believe these changes are deliberate. Others, like me, believe it is just dumb stupidity. Either way,  the result is the same. It is indeed enough for the rate payers of Black Forest & Clarence Park speak up and be heard. It is likewise enough to unseat this Government if what we are experiencing is occurring on mass elsewhere.

Their submissions will add depth of voice to Council’s own submission to the Department, and our lobbying behind the scenes. The Government will surely see that the Community is backing up their Council.

Look to another blog post soon covering Council’s response.

If You Don’t Speak Up Suffer the Consequences

Suffer the consequences if you don’t speak up. That is what is facing you right now if you live in Black Forest. It also applies if you live in Clarence Park west of East Avenue or a small section fronting Goodwood Road.

 

Suffer the ConsequencesFrom you ask. From the possible replacement of current housing stock with not just 2 for 1 but 3 for 1 or worse. Developments such as the one in the adjacent photo. From 60’s style flats.

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The Government is seeking public comment on their new Planning & Design Code. The Code, a single document, will replace all current 72 Council Development Plans. Future development in our streets will be judged on this Code.

So what. The Minister has given public assurances that the zones in the old Council Plan will be transitioned into the new Code without change.

 

Sorry Minister. You are mistaken.

 

The zone called RB350 in the City of Unley Development Plan is NOT being transitioned without change. It has significant, negative change which can’t surely have been intended on your part.

Thinking about it, transitioning 72 equivalent RB350 (or the like) zones can’t possibly be achieved without change. The numerical date in each of these plans differs. Rolling them into one therefore cant be achieved without change occurring.

 

In the case of Black Forest & Clarence Park, that change is dramatic. It is so dramatic we all need to speak up against it. If we don’t we will suffer the consequences.

 

Suffer the ConsequencesYou will be receiving a flyer in your letter box in the very near future seeking you to help us help you protect the amenity of our neighbourhood.

I have also been speaking to as many of my neighbours, from both suburbs, to explain the extent and the gravity of what is proposed. I have explained to each of these people what I see is the simply answer to the challenge we face.

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Please pass this blog post onto your neighbours and contact me so I can explain to you what this is all about. It will take approximately an hour so to do during which time I can give you case studies of what might happen. I can give you guidance as to what the solution is and what you can do, and trust me, it is simple.

Please also come along to the Clarence Room in the Clarence Park Community Centre at 7.00 pm on Friday 24th January where Jennie and I will present further, answer questions and guide you on what you can do.  

Tell the Government what you think of the new Planning & Design Code.

It is your turn, and it is important and urgent you do, to tell the Government what you think of the new Planning & Design Code.

 

Much has been said about the Planning & Design Code (PDC) in the last 12 months. To keep you informed, I have posted numerous blog posts on the subject.

In previous blog posts I questioned the Minister’s assurance that the PDC will simply transfer like for like from 68 council development plans into the new single code. We have heard they will maintain demolition controls that exist in historic and character areas.

This has been achieved in Unley, to a large degree, albeit inconsistently.

The Clarence Park Ward (west of East Avenue) however is not looking to fare as well.  With no similar protections as the rest of Unley we are vulnerable.

I have spent many an hour deciphering the code since it was finally published a couple of months back. In so doing I have found some alarming quantitative changes.

Changes that will see a potential significant increase in density where you live. Changes that with the allowing for “minor” variations as being acceptable, could see 3 houses where there are now only one.

If you want to protect the integrity of the area you live in you must speak now. The amenity of your suburb/street could change forever as a result of changes that ARE being proposed for your area.

If you don’t you could experience what residents along Fullarton Road have recently experienced. Your opportunity is now. It will be too late if you wait until a development is proposed for next door.

You have until the end of February to do this.

Jennie & I will strategize this Saturday morning (21 December) about how we might share what we have learnt and help you provide a submission with substance.

We are having a coffee at Rise & Grind and will be there between 10.00 am and noon if you want to come and learn some more sooner rather than later.

New Planning & Design Code is Introducing Environmental Initiatives

The draft Planning & Design Code is introducing some environmental initiatives or controls but there is no detail yet. At least I am struggling to find them.

 

Pilots licences aside, the author of the Code and now the Minister are on record as sprouting that the Planning & Design Code is introducing some environmental initiatives. Initiatives hitherto not incorporated in Planning legislation.

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Initiatives such as:

  • Identifying tree canopy cover as a planning requirement
  • Providing for Deep Soil Zones
  • Likewise permeable surfaces
  • Regulated Tree Overlay

I am confused however by what I read in the Code concerning each of these initiatives.

Identifying tree canopy cover as a planning requirement

The City of Unley has been promoting for some time now the need to incorporate some form of development controls around ensuring tree canopy cover. The Government’s 30 year plan calls for an increase in tree canopy cover.

They have set a goal for Unley to have a 30% canopy cover by 2030. This cannot be achieved unless the are mechanisms to increase the overage on private property. The Code has an aim to do this.

The only references I find regarding trees on private property so far talks of planting trees at the front of development of 4 or more storeys. The only other reference I can find is for tree planting provided on public streets and public open space. Hardly an initiative of significance I would have thought.

Providing Deep Soil Zones

Again the only reference to deep soil zones is on multi storey development.

If I simply have not found the detail on both of these initiatives I trust the Minister will direct me to it. If it has been omitted then I trust it will now be included.

Permeable Surfaces

A number of references have been made in respect of carparking areas and/or driveways containing at least 50% permeable surfaces. This is encouraging but I would like to see a more general requirement for permeable surfaces on all properties. Too many properties are totally paved out or have fake lawn.

Regulated Tree Overlay

Sounds a lot like we now have areas where we wish to protect trees. Areas rather than focus on quantifying what constitutes a regulated tree. I believe I need assistance understanding what the legislators are trying to achieve here.

It seeks to preserve regulated trees listed as rare or endangered under the National parks & Wildlife Act 1972. Trouble is I don’t see any tree species listed in that Act.

This Overlay talks of trees within 20 metres of a building. It seems that the distance from a building within which trees do not need development approval for removal has been extended.

If I am reading this right, I trust it is in error. Otherwise the legislation is watering down restrictions.

 

 

 

Is the new Planning & Design Code simpler?

Is the new Planning & Design Code a simpler, easier to use code or a document of complexity that will require a pilot’s licence to navigate.

 

Renewing Our Heritage PlanningThe core of the Planning & Design Code is the data base that will sit behind it. This data base will allow anyone, not just those with a pilot’s licence, to pull up their own property on a map and find out what develop is or is not allowed on that site.

To that end it is clearly going to be easier to understand the planning system in South Australia. Behind this however is a regime of legislation far more complex than the totality of the 68 Council development plans now in operation. A far cry and the complete opposite of what we expected when former Minister Rau announced the changes and a reduction to only 5 zones. A code by the way that would not recognise character zones.

Minister Knoll advised the community attending last week’s forum that the current zones have all been transferred to the Code. This one might expect means without change. He also reinforced that current demolition controls would be maintained.

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This code has some 50 zones. I have not counted how many layers over these. This makes the process of evaluating the code an onerous one. A process that is testing those of us with knowledge in matters planning.

 

As I said in my last blog post I have found the draft Code to be full of errors and omissions. The transfer of zones has not been seamless. The errors and omissions are extensive. So extensive it does lead to the speculation that the Government cannot be trusted. It seems that we need to identify them (each and one by one), failing which the intent may not be achieved and there will change by stealth.

I am working through the Code to do just that and undertake to continue so doing and keeping you informed. Your Council, through its Principal Planner David Brown, is doing the same thing.

The City of Unley will be seeking further interaction with the Minister and the SA Planning Commission. We will be putting in what clearly will be a detailed submission. We have to given the observations I am making.

 

Is the New Planning & Design Code Undemocratic legislation

Communities from across the state attended a forum last night believing the New Planning & Design Code is Undemocratic Legislation.

Held at the splendid heritage listed Norwood Concert Hall, the forum was conducted by Protect Our Heritage. Protect Our Heritage is an alliance of local community organisations whose primary aim is protecting our heritage. Their website is https://protectourheritage.nationbuilder.com/

Renewing Our Heritage PlanningThe forum was designed to inform and encourage communities to respond to the State Government’s new Planning & Design Code. Speakers on the night all spoke with concern that  hard won protections for our treasured heritage places are under threat.

The common belief expressed was that the Government’s State Planning Commission is not looking to maintain those heard fought protections. This flies in the face of assurances I have received from the Chair of the State Planning Commission. Assurances expressed in blogs I wrote in May and earlier this month.

How the Commission will treat (what have been called until now) contributory items was the biggest concern. Public utterances from the Government, the Minister and the Commission have left members of the alliance believing protections are going to be removed in the new Planning & Design Code.

They are concerned that the Commission will determine, not the parliament, what will or will not be included. In other words, they believe that there is not going to be any public input into the final decisions. In other words, undemocratic legislation.

At the heart of the concerns and energy in the room last night then is a lack of community consultation.  

Rather than consult us, the Commission has been saying trust us. Given a lack of consultation to date, attendees do not trust the Commission and the Government.

I believe the problem here is when should a government (whether Federal, State or Local) commence consulting on any issue. Should they consult when a project is at the formative (blank sheet) stage. Or should it be when there has been sufficient information for informed public observation to be possible.

Here at Unley we have tried both ways. Either way we have been criticised. When consulting on a blank piece of paper for not providing substance to respond to. When consulting on a prepared position for hiding facts until the end.

As reported in my blog earlier this month the Commission will be putting their proposals out to consultation from October. At this time there should be sufficient information for informed debate by the community.

The consultation period for metropolitan council areas will extend until early next year. This should provide ample opportunity for such informed debate.

Finally, as I have said in both mentioned blog posts, we must respond when the opportunity presents itself shortly. We must look at the detail (the devil is in the detail). We then must put our submissions into the Commission. That is all us. Collectively and individually.

As I have often said in my blogs, only then can you be assured your voice is heard. Let us all ensure by participating that we are not the reason for any undemocratic legislation.

I know I will be. Will you?

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: