Government compromise on planning a testament to community response

A strong campaign from residents groups backed up by action from local councils has seen very significant improvements to the O'Farrell government's planning law amendment Bill that passed the upper house this week.

However the elements of the Bill that remained will significantly limit the ability of local councils to protect residents' views, sunlight and general amenity.

Greens MP and Planning Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

See the SMH report here

"This was just the opening scene in what will be a long campaign to hold the O'Farrell government to its promise to return planning powers to the community.

"The Bill as initially drafted would have produced genuinely disastrous outcomes and gutted almost all controls in key planning documents called Development Control Plans (DCPs).

"A strong campaign from residents groups and local councils who barraged the Planning Minister's office with well-reasoned submissions on why the law needed change produced results.

"The Minister sat down with the Better Planning Network, Sydney City Council and the NSW Greens and negotiated in good faith to remove a series of damaging provisions from the Bill and this should be recognised.

"Proposals such as setting aside DCPs to the extent they "unreasonably restrict" development and provisions reducing DCPs to "guidelines" were stripped from the Bill as a result of the strong community campaign.

"However the Bill still provides that performance controls such as height, setbacks, floor space ratio controls and building footprints instead of being maximum provisions subject to merit assessment, are now as of right entitlements.

"This will give little or no ability for councils to moderate development to protect people's views, sunlight and general amenity. These changes are a big setback for residents across the State.

"With the Planning White Paper still pending and future reforms likely to strip back local planning even further there is a good deal more to be done to mobilise the community to protect this State's planning laws.

"Unfortunately greens amendments to entirely protect Heritage Conservation Areas were not supported by the Government and these beautiful parts of the State face real challenges from overdevelopment in coming months.

"The Greens congratulate those resident groups and local councils who insisted on making their voices heard and by doing so achieved significant improvements to this planning legislation," Mr Shoebridge said.

Greens MP Jamie Parker congratulated local organisations like the Glebe Society who lobbied on this issue.

"The Greens' meetings with the Minister and his staff delivered some progress but more need to be done to ensure planning is focused on communities not just developers," Mr Parker said.

More information: 9660 7586

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