Time to pause and consult
The Phase 2 (rural) Planning and Design Code ‘went live’ on Friday 31 July 2020. This was despite clear and strident feedback from country Councils that they are unprepared, under- resourced and inadequately staffed to cope with the complex new system and its, still incomplete, e-planning platform.
This is all part of the unrestrained and damaging scramble by the State Planning Commission (SPC) and the Planning Department (DPTI) to impose a confusing and unworkable policy framework which will attempt to override long established and accepted planning practices specific to Council areas. The Government’s promise of a ‘one size fits all’ rationalisation of planning processes throughout the State is unrealistic and unacceptable to local communities.
A key part of the unrest and Code implementation pushback was generated by the short-term and inadequate consultation particularly with rural Councils and their communities. The statutory obligations of the Community Engagement Charter were ignored by the SPC. Community feedback was largely disregarded, and a Planning and Design Code that was mainly the brainchild of the development, construction and building industry is at risk of being foisted on a disenfranchised public.
And now, in the aftermath of the discrediting of former Minister Stephan Knoll, we have a new Planning Minister, Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman. On face value, this is a welcome development. New Minister Chapman has a background of an enlightened attitude to planning policy and heritage protection. She was one of the more strident of her Liberal colleagues, when in Opposition, to speak against John Rau’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure (2016) Act.
Given the mess she has now inherited and, which she must, by now, have discerned as a threat to Government-held city electorates, including hers, it is to be hoped that she will review and re-consider the future of the Code implementation process.
In the first instance we must urge her to defer the deployment of the Phase 3 (metropolitan) Code in accord with the wishes, not only of communities and key concerned organisations, but also of Industry bodies, who fear the chaos of a poorly planned and managed implementation. Secondly, we must urge her to ensure that the community is now given a genuine opportunity to debate the sweeping changes being imposed by stealth through the Planning and Design Code.
The proposed new planning system was Labor’s baby, but the Liberal Government has inherited its rearing, although it is at the mercy of a bureaucratic nursemaid who, at present, holds sway over rational political oversight.
It is to be hoped that the new Minister will be able to break this nexus and set the process on a new path. I urge you to contact her at her Bragg Electoral Office to encourage her to heed and act on the concerns of a much neglected community voice.
With Best Regards
Warren Jones AO
STOP THE CODE BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!