All too often people don’t understand the devil in the detail of city planning schemes. Then development applications are submitted which can’t be stopped even though the community considers the proposals to be inappropriate.
To help people understand their city’s planning scheme, the document should include a well written Strategic Framework.
In State Government guidelines, local councils are told:
- The strategic framework sets the policy direction for the planning scheme and forms the basis for ensuring appropriate development occurs in the planning scheme area for the life of the planning scheme.
- Where there is inconsistency between provisions in the planning scheme …the strategic framework prevails over all other components…
It’s a very important part of any planning scheme carrying a lot of weight when development applications are decided.
So what sort of Strategic Framework was included in the draft new planning scheme that Redland City Council has been struggling with for some time?
The short answer is that Redland City Council did a very poor job on the Strategic Framework for the Draft City Plan 2015.
It’s as if the 2012-2016 Council couldn’t be bothered spending any time on this important front-end part of the new plan, perhaps too focused on helping developers by up-zoning areas and making it even easier to clear trees.
Instead of preparing a strategic framework suited specifically to Redland City’s needs and aspirations, the Council served up a document consisting mainly of boilerplate from the State Government’s guidelines, the Queensland Planning Provisions.
It’s not the community’s vision
The Redlands community vision, set out in the long term Community Plan, was ignored in the Draft City Plan.
The Community Plan’s vision:
vibrant city of mainland and island communities, each with distinctive character, heritage and lifestyles
was replaced in the draft city plan with:
vibrant city renowned for its natural, scenic and cultural values, its robust local economy and its active and resilient and connected community
It’s not the vision which Redlands residents agreed to when they worked together to prepare the Community Plan. It isn’t even the vision of the existing Redlands Planning Scheme, which might have been a starting point.
Community participation is required
A planning scheme is supposed to be prepared with community participation.
The 2012-2016 Redland City Council ignored this requirement. The only section of the community which was consulted about the draft plan was the property development sector, covertly through the Development Industry Reference Group.
When Cr Paul Bishop moved a motion at the 19 March 2014 Council meeting that the community be consulted about the drafting of the new planning scheme this was voted down by 6 votes to 4. What a short sighted decision!
The resolution proposed by Cr Bishop, as discussed by him in this video, was:
1. To support a phase of community consultation to ‘inform, educate and collaborate’ with residents regarding the:
a) State Government changes to the RCC Planning Scheme time horizon;
b) Range of low/medium and high population growth strategies and options available to Council;
c) range of options on how to deal with that growth i.e., increase density, within the urban footprint, increase the urban footprint to consider ‘greenfield development’, or consider a mix; and
d) Planning Scheme studies (Livable Communities and Housing, Economic Growth, Hazards and Safety, Environment and Heritage and Infrastructure); and
e) Collate input and feedback from the community about these matters in order to incorporate residents’ views into our Draft Planning Scheme, and
2. That this proposed consultation is distinct and separate to state interest review and statutory consultation.
3. That a report be brought back to council, detailing options on costs how this consultation should proceed to best integrate community residents’ input into the draft planning scheme.
The councillors elected a few months ago are now grappling with more than 6,000 submissions opposed to various aspects of the Draft City Plan.
But without a strategic framework the Plan is pointless, just a muddle of codes and zones allowing developers to squeeze in more units while livability is reduced and the environment destroyed.
A new planning scheme cannot be made “line by line” or “issue by issue” without an overall purpose consistent with the community’s vision.
So the question to be resolved is how to prepare a Strategic Framework for the Redlands City Plan, which the community will agree with.
Can this be done without genuine community engagement?