Planning and Heritage

The Greens have been working to protect our heritage and our communities from overdevelopment.

Threat to NSW Planning Laws

May 2013 – The NSW Government proposes drastic changes to planning laws in NSW, laid out in a White Paper, will have a direct, and damaging, impact on our neighbourhoods and our local environment.

Rather than putting an end to the pro-developer planning culture cultivated by Labor, the Liberal Government is planning to entrench it.

In brief, the planning system proposed by the O’Farrell Government will:

  1. Hand over the key planning decisions on land use to unelected regional bodies dominated by Ministerial appointees.
  2. See up to 80% of development approved in 10 to 25 days without any community notification or input
  3. Force local councils to deliver unpopular planning decisions made at a state and regional level
  4. Further reduce heritage and environmental protections
  5. Take the democracy out of planning by removing elected councillors from most
    decision making on developments
  6. Let developers off the leash by “letting the market decide” where new housing and development will occur
  7. Introduce new taxes so that new in-fill development subsidises unprofitable and
  8. Expand the use of developer-paid private certifiers to assess and approve the majority
    of developments

More information below. These measures constitute a direct betrayal of the O’Farrell Government’s pre-election promise to return planning powers to the community. The proposed changes massively tip development laws in favour of developers, at the expense of communities.

Have your say by making a submission by 28 June 2013  – See the White Paper: ‘A New Planning System for NSW’ website .

For latest news about actions by your local Greens on Marrickville Council in support of the campaign, including Public Forums about the changes, visit the Media page.

To get involved in the campaign to improve the draft Bill visit the website of the Greens NSW Planning Spokesperson David Shoebridge MLC; join the Better Planning Network – a coalition of local residents, community groups and Councils; or download information about the proposed changes from the Environmental Defenders Office or the Nature Conservation Council.

The Greens’ vision

The most important principle we can enshrine at the heart of our planning system is that of ecologically sustainable development (ESD). ESD can protect and enhance biodiversity while ensuring we have the jobs and housing we need. The White Paper changes proposed by the Liberal State Government would remove the principle of ESD from our planning system.
The Greens support sensible infill development in existing suburbs, accompanied by the infrastructure required to support increasing densities – this means more public transport, better protected and improved public open space and the retention of ‘main streets’ as community hubs.

Rather than endless urban sprawl, a smart planning policy would encourage appropriate development on land that is no longer needed for warehousing, industry or other defunct uses. What the development industry and their supporters in government don’t tell you is that we can redevelop these areas with high densities without covering them with high rise towers.

Stopping the sprawl also ensures that precious farmland and bushland can be preserved, protecting our future biodiversity and food production. This also means giving regional and rural communities the ability to protect endangered ecological communities and productive farmland through protective zoning measures.

We need to learn the best lessons of the past and match them with the brightest technologies of the 21st century. Much of the development in NSW in the late 19th and earlier 20th centuries produced beautiful, liveable and walkable suburbs that we now greatly prize. These Victorian terraces and garden suburbs were designed to be low energy and low impact developments with active local shopping precincts and main streets that generated local jobs and economic activity.

While we preserve the past we must also adopt the best new technologies in old and new development. This means facilitating local energy production both solar and wind, energy efficiency, recycling and reusing urban water and building smarter, not bigger, new housing. Co-operative medium density housing, publicly owned and active open space and community owned energy infrastructure need to be key planks in a new planning act.

Achieving such a vision requires best practice planning controls – developed with local communities, town planners, ecological consultants and health policy experts – and the consistent application of these controls. “Flexibility” sounds good as a concept, but when you realise that the main driver for most development in NSW is profit, flexibility means c

utting back on social benefits, reducing open space and minimising expense.

Part 3A – back again? 

Part 3A of the planning law allowed the Minister for Planning to strip local councils of their power to determine large development applications.  Instead of locally elected councillors making the decision, the Minister or an unelected panel appointed by the Minister makes the decision.  Under Part 3A 99.6% of  applications are approved!  Many developers have donated to the NSW Labor Party and it is seen by many as a way developers can bypass local councils

It's time to ban developer donations to political parties

and community scrutiny.

In Marrickville, two development proposals were ‘called in’ under Part 3A.

1) A huge overdevelopment in Lewisham that includes 14 storey residential towers and a large supermaket mall.

2) An IKEA bulky goods store on the Princes Highway at Tempe.

The Greens believe that the locally elected council should make such development decisions.  The local council process is much more responsive to local community concerns and allows greater community participation.  The Part 3A process is murky, distant and effectively locks the community out of the decision making process.

The Liberal State Government promised to repeal Part 3A in 2012. However the proposed changes they want to bring in would return the same powers to the Minister and Regional Boards to bypass local councils and local residents.

Complying developments and Code development

Complying and exempt developments law means that developments that meet a simple set of criteria do not have to go to council for consent.  Instead, a developer can hire their own private certifier to tick off and approve the development (that’s right, someone who you are paying will sign off on your own development!).

Not only do complying developments bypass council scrutiny, but neighbours do not have to be informed until 48 hours before construction (or demolition) starts.  Even then they will only be informed that the development has already been approved!

The Greens voted against past shonky laws in the State Parliament, when they were introduced by the Labor Government. Now a Liberal Government is planning to take them even further.

They plan to massively increase the number of developments which are “complying”, and also plan to introduce a new category of “code development”. A code would be developed outlining things like how tall a building could be, and if a development does not unreasonable exceed this a Council will have no choice but to approve the development.


Archive – We have also been working on Marrickville Council to protect the community and our heritage from current laws.

The Greens previously moved a motion that would have protected all houses built before 1939 from these laws.  Unfortunately, the Labor and Independent Councillors voted this excellent motion down.  Perhaps they’re more concerned with protecting the state Labor government than protecting the local community and heritage?

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