The Palaszczuk Government has asserted its commitment to planning reform.
This is set out in a paper issued recently by Deputy Premier and Planning Minister Jackie Trad.
“Queensland needs a fair and practical planning and development assessment framework to secure the long-term liveability, sustainability and prosperity for our communities, both now and into the future,” Ms Trad said.
“I want residents to have a strong voice in the planning and development decisions that affect the neighbourhoods and communities where they work, live and play.” she added.
Here is a link to the document:
Another call for planning submissions
The Directions Paper is said to outline the Government’s commitment to create a planning system that is fair, open, transparent that enables responsible development and delivers prosperity, sustainability and liveability for now and into the future.
The claims are that the Government recognises the need to:
- enable better strategic planning and high quality development outcomes
- ensure effective public participation and engagement in the planning framework
- create an open, transparent and accountable planning system that delivers investment and community confidence
- create legislation that has a practical structure and clearly expresses how land use planning and development assessment will be done in Queensland
- support local governments to adapt to and adopt the changes.
Many in the community were relieved when the previous Planning and Development Bill lapsed. Former Minister Seeney’s Bill was seen as gearing up to trash community rights. Redlands2030 discussed concerns about the Seeney proposals in: New planning laws threaten community rights.
Interestingly, the Department’s website gives an assurance that any submission to the previous Bill, such as that by Redlands2030, has been (i.e. already) considered. It is hoped the Minister ensures the submissions are examined in the light of her path ahead and does not presume the old Bill had credence outside a small cohort of pro-development interests.
Perhaps the Minister should secure a fresh set of technocrats to deliver the new Planning Bill so as to distance herself (and the Government) from the lapsed Bill.
First thoughts: fix the “fuzzy logic”
The community is assured is that there will be several opportunities to provide a submission as the new planning bill progresses. One hopes then that the Government comes out to the communities and finds out what local communities are concerned about.
Initial reading of the Discussion Paper raises several significant concerns.
First is the fuzzy logic at the beginning. In particular, the overall trilogy objective of “prosperity, sustainability and liveability”. It is progressive and should be warmly supported, but the principles and goals following do not match that trilogy; and sustainability and liveability are largely absent from the text of the Paper.
The text is heavily focused on the process of planning and neglects the twin primary purposes of planning, which are to secure property rights and to secure the public interest in land use – the rights of landowners on the one hand; and of neighbours and communities on the other.
Planning legislation since the Integrated Planning Act 1997 has been much too flexible. This is the cause of many of the problems in the Redlands. A need for certainty is called for by the development industry but not the certainty of a NO. Flexibility suits applicants but not neighbours and communities.
Second, the text slips in the term “economic growth” as a purpose of planning!
Yes, planning can facilitate economic activity by simplifying development approvals (cutting red tape) and then securing decisions so that industry and everybody else knows where they stand. But that is different from conceiving planning as a means of “stimulating economic growth”.
If the new Bill is intended to be about stimulating economic growth, then how many development application will ever be rejected?
Private enterprise should be the engine that drives economic growth. Planning is to secure the public interest.
The aim of planning: protect the public interest
These observations may seem semantic, but the scrambled up objectives in the first few pages of the Discussion Paper are a set of flashing lights and our community should monitor how this omelette of ideas is played out.
More difficult than simply criticising the text is to conceive of what is missing. First cut ideas, that the community could press for include:
- environmental sustainability to be one of the foundation guiding principles/objectives embedded at the front of the legislation;
- a statutory requirement for all planning applications to be considered by local governments in open public session
- stronger conflict of interest provisions to prevent undue developer influence on local government decision making
- enhanced ability for State departments to say “no” based on State interests
- enhanced compliance with zoning and provisions for “no go” areas. In other words certainty for the industry AND the community
- bring fixation with “injurious affection”, or down-zoning, in line with other jurisdictions, to help fix past planning mistakes
- remove appeal rights against zoning decisions by Councils (as in New South Wales), and restore the weight to community interest.
- a restructured court with funding and other provisions to make it easy for councils to defend refusals
- restore the balance in the appeal process so community groups can participate in the legal proceedings (and not risk house & home)
In fairness the new Government has to deal with the expectations of those stakeholders who were involved in the drafting of the Seeney era Planning Bill. But given the limited array of those stakeholders, a more balanced and credible approach is an essential “starting point”. The Minister should look beyond those claiming some special insight into statutory planning. The world is much bigger than that mindset. A mindset that has caused so much angst and past failures … where planners have been able to develop a planning system for planners and insiders, NOT people.
The Shoreline example
A local failure unfolding before the community is the example of the proposed Shoreline development in southern Redlands by way of an MCU application. The land is outside the Urban Footprint and outside the urban zoning of the Redlands Planning Scheme. The Government processes to date that have facilitated progress of this massive project gives the community no confidence in the old planning system.
1. Any suggestions from Redlanders as to the issues the new planning framework should consider or entail please add by way of comment to this post (below).
2. Alternatively make your comments directly to email@example.com or by filling out the online feedback form.
3. Alert the Deputy Premier Ms Jackie Trad of any abiding concerns by writing to her or emailing her this post on: firstname.lastname@example.org