The New South Wales Government has announced the release of a new Planning White Paper, which Premier Barry O’Farrell says will result in the ‘biggest overhaul of the State’s planning system in over 30 years’.

“Under the new system, communities and local councils will come together to plan for their streets, suburbs and regions whether it’s housing, jobs or infrastructure,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“This greater emphasis on upfront strategic planning will ensure homes are delivered affordably, people can work close to where they live and infrastructure is guaranteed to support growth.

State Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, said that the new system will be based on five key elements:

  • Community participation – Upfront community participation will become a legal right and will be backed up by a Community Participation Charter enshrined in law, which is an Australian first.
  • Infrastructure – Delivering infrastructure alongside growth and providing a more certain and consistent way of funding infrastructure.
  • Strategic planning – Better strategies, developed early in the process with the community, to guide the best places for growth and identify the areas to be protected from development.
  • Cultural change – A planning system that is easy to access with timely results for customers.
  • Development assessment – An easy-to-use system that provides certainty for everyday applications such as family homes, extensions and small businesses.

“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 business around $174 million a year through reduced delays,” Mr Hazzard said.

The paper is open for public consultation until 28 June, with the Government seeking public feedback before it debates the paper in Parliament later this year.

Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW) has expressed its concern over elements of the paper, saying that it could mean that local interests could be drowned out in the ‘top heavy’ and ‘top down’ approach advocated in the paper.

Joint President of LGNSW, Cr Ray Donald, questioned whether the new Planning System may have failed to acknowledge the importance of grassroots planning as a way of delivering better planning outcomes. 

“Councils have a wealth of local knowledge that is crucial to feed up into strategic planning for our communities,” said Cr Donald.

“This White Paper does not only propose changes to plans and procedures, it is suggesting that in order to succeed there must be fundamental changes to the planning culture in NSW”

The paper can be found here