The state government is hoping to transform planning by boosting investment, fast-tracking development application decisions and bringing community consultation to the heart of planning under new laws set to be introduced later this year.
The NSW government will introduce new regulations that force local councils to approve 80 per cent of compliant development propsals within 25 days over five years, compared to the current average of 71 days.
The NSW minister for planning and infrastructure, Brad Hazzard, said the ambitious new planning laws will “depoliticise” the complex and slow planning system which he feels is in desperate need of an overhaul.
“Many of these changes are ground-breaking and in some instances an Australian first, it turns the current planning system on its head by ensuring communities create long-term plans for suburbs and regions,” Mr Hazzard said.
“Within five years, we are aiming for 80 per cent of applications to go through a faster code assessment process, which has the potential to save the community and businesses around $174 million a year.”
However the opposition and some community groups are accusing the government of taking a top down approach, that will benefit developers at the expense of local councils and communities.
Under the new system the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure will have the power to amend local plans made by councils, a decision that opponents say threatens community rights.
Convenor of the Better Planning Network, an affiliation of over 350 community groups, Corinne Fisher, said that while planning reforms are needed, the proposals are developer driven and will work from the top down.
“The government is proposing to remove community consultation on the majority of development applications in exchange for increasing community participation at the strategic planning level,” she said.
“Decisions will be made higher up and they will greatly limit the scope of community engagement at the local level. The evidence base for strategic planning is incomplete, it poses a danger to local democracy.”
The new set of laws are the most comprehensive revamp of planning laws in NSW for over 30 years. They are designed to promote economic growth and investment through consolidating housing, jobs and infrastructure through strategic planning.
The government has proposed that NSW planning policies will shape state-wide objectives and policy directions, which will be filtered down through regional growth plans, subregional growth plans and lastly through local planning.