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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning Reform Opponents Morons show respect not afforded them.

Minister Rau you are fortunate that your Planning Reform Opponents Morons are showing much more respect than that you are showing them.

To his credit Minister Rau did clarify his statement, saying the comments were “referring in general terms to critics making false statements about the contents of the Planning Bill”. “The language was however inappropriate and I apologise for using it,” he said.

He then, in defending his position, claimed “Where the present system manifestly fails is that most people have no idea what the zoning requirements are for where they live, and the first time they find out is when somebody wants to put something next door to them that they really, really hate, and they say, ‘And by the way, why didn’t somebody tell me that thing was coming?’” Rau said.

“What I am trying to do is to move that conversation right up to the beginning of it so that communities actually have a chat at the very beginning about what is going to be okay in our community.

John-Rau-3883-850x455You are completely right Minister but you have not addressed the problem. May I suggest to you that you are in the same boat as this large group of people. You do not understand the changes yourself.

I agree that not enough is done to involve people at the front end of the process. Waiting until the end of the process inevitably provides false hope as representations invariably do not address planning issues.

If you intend to provide them the opportunity to be involved at the front end you need to be serious about the consultation opportunity provided at that point of the process. While this legislation is working its way through the system your own inner suburban ministerial DPA, one of the more far reaching ever, will have a limited public consultation. This consultation will not in my opinion provide the very people you are calling morons a fair opportunity to contribute with any meaning.

And sorry but there must be a fail safe too at the end of the process. An opportunity for those affected by development that pushes the boundaries of a particular development plan, many by significant amounts; like the recent Cremorne Plaza on Unley Road which will have 40% more storeys than the recently agreed to DPA, from 5 to 7.

Minister, instead of denigrating (notwithstanding your apology) your opponents, how about listening to them. You might actually see that they have an argument worth taking on board.