16 Sep, 2014

Idea Of State Planning Commission Endorsed By Council As First Step In Reform

City of Adelaide Councillors have unanimously endorsed recommendations that will form the basis of Council’s submission to the State Government’s Independent Expert Panel on Planning Reform.

Councillor David Plumridge, Deputy Chair of Council’s City Planning & Development Committee said a key point in Council’s submission to the Expert Panel will be around its support for establishing a State Planning Commission (Reform 1) as the first step in any reform process.

“Council is saying we support a Commission which is independent of State Government, can depoliticise decisions, is inclusive in style and made up of cross sector representatives –that’d be a positive first step in our view,” Cr Plumridge said.

“At arm’s length from the State Government and able to make decisions, the Commission should have as its first action to work with key stakeholders on establishing Reform 3 – the Charter for Citizen Participation.

“It’s important though that any Charter doesn’t remove mandatory engagement requirements, and is not a substitute for a ‘local voice’ and the influencing role that local government plays on behalf of its local community.

“Our submission will also reinforce the view that any reforms should ensure that all of the State’s rich heritage assets are protected and that current listings are not lost,” he said.

The Council resolution also highlighted concern and opposition to Reforms 2 and 15 which focus on establishing Regional Planning Boards and Regional Development Assessment Panels, respectively.

Council believes these two reforms in particular will exclude the important role of local government and elected representatives from policy development and development assessment and see a further distancing of local communities from their ability to influence planning policy and outcomes in their local area via their local councils.

“With the panel charged with providing a final report to the State Government by December, we’ll be calling on the Planning Minister to provide a public response to the final report and all its recommendations, as well as provide an opportunity for the community and key stakeholders to be engaged before they implement any reforms,” Cr Plumridge said.

“This Government has a reputation for making changes to the planning system with little or no consultation, which is totally at odds with the approach the Minister has asked the Expert Panel to use, so we expect to be consulted before any change comes about.

“The Planning Minister clearly showed his hand recently when he was quoted saying councils should stick to approving fences and sheds – this at a time when people are meant to be participating in an independent process of his making to look at reform across the whole of the State.

“The State’s lack of engagement on planning changes in the last year really underlines why local communities need to engage on what’s being proposed by the Expert Panel in their report – Our Ideas for Reform. The panel’s 27 reform ideas put every aspect of the State’s planning system up for review.

“Whether it’s the process for decision making, how it impacts our constituents, businesses and residents alike, or how people influence what happens in their local neighbourhood – it’s all on the table,” Cr Plumridge said.

Council is holding a Community Information Session this Thursday night (18/09) at 6.30pm in the Meeting Hall at 25 Pirie Street.

Planning experts will be on hand to talk through the reforms and answer questions on the night, which can better inform people who want provide feedback to the Expert Panel by 26 September deadline.

More information is available at cityofadelaide.com.au/planningreform

For more information

David Hill