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Parramatta CBD will benefit from new planning legislation. Parramatta CBD will benefit from new planning legislation.
05 June 2013 Posted by 

Consultation and simplicity with new planning system

By Geoff Lee 
State Member for Parramatta

THE construction industry is a key economic driver for Western Sydney and NSW yet we have a 30 year old planning system that lacks transparency, timeliness and fairness.

The NSW Planning Act has been amended over 150 times since its inception, making it more complex and convoluted than it needs to be. The Act lacks focus on strategic planning, economic outcomes and infrastructure alignment.

Today 60% of development applications are for new homes and home alterations take an average of 64 and 58 days respectively to assess.

It is not surprising that 10% take more than five months. The current system creates significant barriers for Western Sydney which is predicted to experience significant population growth from 1.6 million to 2.4 million people by 2036 that will drive demand for an estimated over 300,000 new dwellings in Western Sydney over the next 20 years.

Business investors will be aware that under the current system less than 25 per cent of proposals meet the requirements to be fast tracked.

Instead, Councils may need to refer applications up to as many as 17 different government agencies increasing assessment timeframes by an average of 50 days.

The NSW Government’s Planning White Paper offers the biggest reform for NSW planning in 30 years. Today’s planning system is too complex, costly and overly legalistic.

Western Sydney Regional Organisations of Councils (WSROC) agrees and says that “one of the biggest challenges will be to return a sense of integrity and transparency to the planning process”.

The NSW Government has released its white paper which aims to simplify the Act to streamline planning regulations to better reflect the needs of the community now and for the next 30 years.

The projected savings for families and businesses are estimated to be around $174 million per annum, through the cutting of red tape and streamlining the application process.

Critics of the planning reforms are concerned with the provisions for public consultation. The new Act brings public consultation to the start of the planning process, where communities have to be engaged to design the communities in which they want to live and work.

The planned Reforms outlined in the White Paper will legislate upfront community consultation through a Community Participation Charter.

It incorporates contemporary concepts such as an online ‘one-stop shop’ and it requires councils to invest in local infrastructure within three years.

The reforms offer quicker assessment for straightforward applications such as home extensions and for small business developments. The creation of five assessment pathways, based on the size, complexity and impact of proposals will enable those that meet the rules to be assessed more quickly.

Parramatta will benefit by unlocking the potential construction opportunities and value added development. The reforms will underpin economic growth for Parramatta and could encourage investment in the:
• Parramatta CBD, as the ‘Capital of Western Sydney’ with a forecast growth of 21,000 new jobs over the next 20 years.

• Camellia Precinct with its close proximity to regional hubs like Parramatta offers substantial opportunities for remediation and redevelopment to create 10,000 jobs and 10,000 homes and incorporate unique opportunities for waterfront living, shopping, dining and offices along Parramatta River and Duck Creek.

• Westmead Bio-Medical Precinct with its close proximity of research, clinical and teaching facilities - the 'Silicon Valley' of bio-medical services in Western Sydney. The precinct employs over 11,000 staff, has the highest level of post-graduates in NSW and has potential for significant growth opportunities.

• Parramatta’s Heritage Precinct - residential and adaptive mixed use to ensure heritage assets are refurbished and protected while injecting an estimated $1 billion into the area.

WSROC has given their ‘in-principle support’ to the efforts to “simplify and streamline the current cumbersome, complicated planning system”.

NSW needs a planning system that is “simpler, more certain and more transparent” - that engages with the community, offers coordinated planning approach and infrastructure alignment.

Western Sydney with its 2011 Gross Regional Product at $78 billion and a 200,000 jobs deficit that is predicted to grow to 319,000 by 2031 needs a new planning system to drive economic and jobs growth both locally and for the state.

To have your say the White Paper is available at planning.nsw.gov.au/newplanningsystem until 28 June 2013.

Nicole Baines

Nicole Baines runs All My Admin, a business that provides support services to Western Sydney Business Access (WSBA) for its online activities. Call (02) 9894 8682 for assistance.



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