New research from The Greens indicates that, in the time the O’Farrell government has been in power the State’s top planning body which considers the largest and most controversial developments in the State, has acted as little more than a rubber stamp for developers.
The Planning and Assessment Commission (or “PAC”), which has no independent resources to assess projects, agreed with the recommendations from the Planning Department a staggering 96% of the time and in doing so approved 95% of the applications that were referred to it for decision.
See report in today’s SMH.
Greens MP and Planning Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“This new research involved a comprehensive survey of the 234 planning decisions made by the PAC in the period between April 2011 and February 2014.
“This included highly controversial proposals such as the Cronulla Sharks $300 million redevelopment, the Calga Quarry and countless controversial coal mines. Of the hundreds of projects considered by the PAC only 12 developments were rejected.
“Not only did the PAC have a staggeringly high approval rate of 95% for all projects, the PAC added very little of value to the process being effectively a rubber stamp for the bureaucrats in the Planning Department in 96% of cases.
“The PAC has no independent staff to provide advice, commission reports or research the development applications that come to them and this makes them heavily reliant on the advice and opinion provided to them by the Planning Department.
“The PAC was established in 2008 by the former Labor government as an allegedly “independent expert” for the determination of particular development applications, and it sells itself as playing an important role in improving “transparency and independence” in the decision making process for NSW planning applications.
“With a 95% approval rate and even higher Department compliance rate, serious questions need to be asked about the efficiency, utility and institutional independence of the PAC.
“The research further shows that when only one member, rather than the more usual three, is placed on a PAC panel for a planning decision then the PAC has a 100% approval rate.
“In these cases the concerns of community members are institutionally ignored.
“The Planning Assessment Commission was established to act as an independent expert but this new data suggests that, other than a tiny handful of circumstances, they have done little more than agree with the Department.”
“The Moore and Dyer Planning Review of 2012 recommended creating a genuinely independent State Planning Commission to decide controversial development matters.