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Gazette Article

Towards a simpler planning system

Artarmon and other residents from the Willoughby local government area last month had an opportunity to provide input at a forum which was the first step in the biggest overhaul of the NSW planning system in more than 30 years.

The Local Environment Plan, including the Willoughby Local Environment Plan will be scrapped for a simpler, more transparent planning system under the NSW Government's strategy to repeal the NSW Environment Planning & Assessment Act (EP&A) and introduce new legislation.

Former Greiner Government environment minister Tim Moore and former Carr Government community services, aged services and disability services and public works minister Ron Dyer, who head the review panel, were conducting the forum at Club Willoughby as part of a "listening and scoping " exercise across NSW.

They said the EP&A act would be repealed and replaced with new legislation to be introduced in a year's time, based on the 1979 act.

The review will consider four key areas: the new legislation's objectives and philosophies; the plan-making process; development proposals; and the rights to appeal, review, conciliation and mediation during the determination process.

The review also aimed to create a planning system that protected local communities from overdevelopment and conserved the environment.

Moore said the current planning instruments did not provide for climate change; it could possibly be split into planning and development; and needed to encourage alternative dispute resolution because the costs of taking residential disputes to court started at $15,000 to $20,000, which was outside most people's reach.

Among interested residents at the Willoughby meetings, were transport minister and local member Gladys Berejeklian; local councillors and former council officers and representatives of Artarmon and Castle Cove progress associations and Save Artarmon.

Cllr Rebecca Giles-Gidney said the Willoughby community was very concerned there should be community consultation over big Part 3A-type developments such as the Channel 9 site.

But those who came for answers to specific issues like the Channel 9 site were disappointed - no specific developments were to be discussed - only general and in-principle issues.

APA executive committee member and representative of Federation of Progress Associations Peter Egan raised concerns about social and environmental impacts; transport, infrastructure and services; accumulated impacts; and the appropriateness of future land use. Dyer asked for information about some of the specific instances of accumulated impacts.

It was pointed out the EP&A act superseded the Native Vegetation & Species acts and zoning was not a suitable mechanism to assess damage from a single zoning or development. Soils, an area's seedbanks were not declared critical habitat under the EP&A act.

Berejiklian confirmed transport planning should be considered as part of the integrated planning.

Cllr Wendy Norton requested the new planning system be a process of community participation, not merely consultation then "going on in the same way originally intended by Government" as often was the outcome of the so-called consultative process.

Moore and Dyer said the number of steps involved in the decision-making process would be reduced and the number different applications would be also come down.

NSW planning minister Brad Hazzard's directive was for maximum information technology involvement in the planning process, including online tracking of the development application process and one single electronic portal.

The deadline for forums, comment and submissions was November 4. An issues paper will be released on December 8 for consultation and feedback to February 17. The green paper will be submitted to the state government and published to interested parties who have provided e-mail addresses and to councils about the end of April. The government will consider recommendations after the legislation is introduced, which will be followed by public consultation from about April to June 2013. For more information, go to:

APA will have ongoing information and news about the planning review on its Facebook Page:

(reported by Plamen Bassarov; Christine Kelley)

by Eva Wiland, Gazette editor

Courtesy of Gazette November 2011
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