We have a number of continuing concerns about the direction of the Planning Bill 2013Planning Bill 2013 as presented to the Parliament.

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These concerns are noted briefly below.

1. Failure to accept key elements of the Moore and Dyer planning review, especially;

(a)   Having ecologically sustainable development as the principle aim of the new planning laws;

(b)   Establishing a genuinely independent state planning commission to determine state significant developments;

(c)    Ensuring that community consultation is meaningful at both the strategic planning and development assessment stages;

2. The decision to entrench private certifiers, with the inevitable conflict of interest it creates, in the planning system by;

(a)   Expanding complying development assessment by private certifiers; and

(b)   Refusing at a minimum to consider models that at least put in place a “blind selection” model for private certifiers to prevent developers from choosing compliant or amenable certifiers

3. The repetition of the flawed Part 3A style assessment model for state significant development that;

(a)   Turns off key environmental and heritage protections;

(b)   Allows local planning laws to be overridden;

(c)    Allows state significant development provisions to be used for private commercial or residential development; and

(d)   Grants the planning minister the ultimate discretion to declare any development, in any part of the state, state significant development and prohibiting the courts from reviewing that determination

4. Creating regional and sub-regional planning bodies that are dominated by State government appointments and empowering them to direct locally elected councils by;

(a)   Providing that the chair and up to four other members of the sub-regional planning boards are appointed by the Minister;

(b)   Allowing just one local government representative from each local area to sit on the board; and

(c)    Requiring local councils to implement all rezoning and land use decisions made by sub-regional and regional planning boards.

 5. Proposing Strategic Compatibility Certificates that;

(a)   Allow the Director General or a Joint regional planning Panel to impose development on local communities in defiance of local planning controls;

(b)   Permits effectively spot rezonings with minimal community engagement;

(c)    Proposes allowing discretionary decisions to benefit developers by reference to broad statements in regional and sub-regional planning documents.

6. Proposes Code Assessable Development that;

(a)   Will be imposed on communities regardless of their wishes in “growth areas” and urban activation precincts;

(b)   Excludes all community input from individual development assessment matters;

(c)    Provides for a tick-a-box rather than merit assessment process; and

(d)   Is open to being imposed on entire local government areas by pro-developer councillors.

7. Reduces protection for local heritage items that are;

(a)   The vast majority of heritage items in NSW; and

(b)   Are not afforded statutory protection even if listed in local plans;

 8. Proposes less prescriptive controls in state and local planning laws that;

(a)   Have been cited by ICAC as potential corruption risks by allowing for discretionary determinations;

(b)   Provide less certain protections for local communities in local planning laws;

(c)    Propose to make less prescriptive controls in important State Planning Policies that currently protect a range of important environmental assets including coastal land, koalas and rainforest.

9. Grants excessive discretionary powers to the Minister that;

(a)   are not referenced to objective criteria; and

(b)   Have been cited by ICAC as potential corruption risks by allowing for discretionary determinations.

10. Fails to place the community at the heart of the planning system 

(a) Community participation requirements in the bill are largely unenforceable.