Media Release

Greens to Put People back into Planning

by Greens' MLC Mark Parnell

February 14th, 2014 11:00 am

The key principle behind the Greens SA election platform on Planning launched today is to “Put People back into Planning”, according to Mark Parnell MLC, Parliamentary leader of the Greens and former planning lawyer.

“Over the last 12 years, we have seen steady erosion in the rights of the general public to participate in planning decisions that affect their local communities.  It is harder to get access to information, harder to have your voice heard on development proposals and next to impossible to challenge bad decisions.

“Planning travesties such as Mount Barker, Buckland Park, Cheltenham Racecourse & the St Clair land swap have destroyed the credibility of the planning system for many South Australians.

“Planning Minister John Rau may have declared there would be “no more Mt Barkers on my watch”, but the culture of “announce and defend” is alive and well.

“Local Councils have also been sidelined with big property developers calling all the shots and smoothing the path to approvals with political donations.  Councils are unfairly blamed for red tape and delays, whilst communities are angry when inappropriate developments are fast-tracked and local concerns ignored.”

The Planning system is completely broken and the Greens have a better way. 

We will:

Changes to Planning Schemes (DPAs)

  1. Limit the ability of the Planning Minister to over-ride a local Council over changes to planning schemes.
  2. End the rort of “interim operation” being used to fast-track a Government’s favoured developments ahead of public consultation.  (The Mayfield Development in the City was approved two weeks BEFORE the public consultation hearing!)
  3. Ensure that infrastructure plans and funding arrangements are in place BEFORE rezoning is finalised.
  4. End the outsourcing of key planning investigations to private planning consultants. Publicly-employed planners acting in the public interest and accountable publicly to the Minister eliminates conflict of interest and reduces the risk of corruption.
  5. Bring public notification arrangements into the modern age.  Classified ads in a newspaper and the Government Gazette simply don’t reach most people these days.
  6. Ensure that all landholders are directly notified of re-zoning or planning rule changes that affect them.  Good Councils do this already, but it is still possible to have your house rezoned without anyone telling you.
  7. Abolish or reform the Development Policy Advisory Committee to ensure that the Planning Minister hears directly from the community concerns over planning changes.
  8. Respect community participation in planning decisions by ensuring that those who make submissions are provided with a written response to issues they raised.
  9. Reform “Parliamentary Scrutiny” of planning to ensure that it occurs BEFORE planning changes come into effect.  A government-controlled committee investigating planning changes from months earlier is a joke!  It’s why Parliament has NEVER rejected a Ministerial planning change.

Development Approvals

  1. Reinstate local councils as the principal decision makers for developments in their local area.
  2. Public notification of ALL development applications including posting signs on subject land and direct notification of potentially affected residents.
  3. Legislate for expert bodies such as the EPA, NRM, SA Health & NVC to have greater input into decisions on development applications.
  4. Increased 3rd party rights of appeal against planning decisions.  Developers nearly always have appeal rights, neighbours rarely do.
  5. End the culture of political donations which corrupts the planning process.  We don’t want “The best democracy money can buy”!
  6. Revise Codes of Conduct for members of Development Assessment Panels to allow decision-makers to consult with stakeholders subject to strict disclosure rules to prevent secret lobbying.
  7. Improve training for Council Development Assessment Panel members to better understand the task of assessing development proposals.

Major Projects

  1. Restrict the use of “Major Project” declarations to those developments that really need an EIS.  Legislate the criteria for major projects and boost rights of public participation.

Authorised by M. Parnell, Parliament House Adelaide.