Land Use Planning and Development Control.
The Issue – It is one thing to get excited about specific development applications, but it is another thing to monitor the total planning system and participate in its evolution.
Participation can be at a number of levels:
1. The Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and Development Control Plan (DCP) level.
Each local government (Council) area has a LEP to control land usage and what can be built where within the Council area. LEPs are prepared by local Councils, in consultation with their community and approved by the Minister for Planning.
(http://www.hornsby.nsw.gov.au/property/development-applications/hornsby-local-environment-plan.Maps 010 and 018 are for the Pennant Hills district).
Although the rules and guidelines for land use within local Council areas are dictated to some degree by State Environmental Planning policies, local Councils can administer more specific rules about land use through their LEP, and provide additional guidance in the DCPs.
LEPs and DCPs are subject to amendment. A comprehensive rewrite of the LEP/DCP was completed in 2013, since when there has been 5 amendments to the LEP and there are 14 LEP/DCP amendments being consideration by Council in 2015/16.
All amendments should be monitored and, in an ideal world, the LEP/DCP should provide the community with certainty and consistency, but sadly this is not the case.
2. EP&A Act – (Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979) – the Act.
Planning in NSW is largely governed by two pieces of legislation, the Act and the EP&A Regulation 2000, which provide the overarching structure for planning in NSW.
A number of other statutory documents support this structure, in particular the LEP (see above) and State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs)
SEPPS – there are approximately 66 State policies that cover the NSW Governments approach to dealing with specific planning issues. These policies are made by the Governor on the recommendations of the Minister and updated as required.
SEPPS include, for example:
Affordable Rental Housing 2009
Exempt and Complying Development
Housing for Seniors & People with a Disability 2004
Advertising and Signage – as amended 2014
All these have been overridden the local LEP in recent times to the disadvantage to the community .
The Act was considered best practice in 1979 but in the 36 years since it has been amended some 150 times with the result that it has become overly legalistic and difficult to navigate.
In 2014 a New Planning System proposal by the NSW Government failed to get through Parliament principally for reasons of failing the promise to return planning powers to the people.
The Better Planning Network, to which the Trust is affiliated, led the opposition to the proposed new system and produced, with others, the Planning for People Charter – A Community Charter for Good Planning in NSW as a starting point for future attempts at new planning system. (http://thecommunitycharter.org/)
3. Top Down Planning Strategies.
The NSW Government releases increased population and new dwelling growth plans in its periodic strategic plans for metropolitan Sydney:2005 Metropolitan Strategy – 21000 new dwellings in the Hornsby / Ku-ring-gai by 2031
2010 Metropolitan Plan for Sydney – increase the above number to 29000 by 2036
A Plan for Growing Sydney, released in December 2014, refers to how rather than how many. The Plan sets the priorities, identifies where the focus should be and how to target growth in strategic centres, transport gateways, and close to transport. (http://www.strategy.planning.nsw.gov.au/sydney/the-plan/)
Subregional Planning – a partnership between State Government, Councils and the community,addresses the distribution of housing and employment growth targets at the Council area level, along with the infrastructure required to support this growth.
(Note – Subregion changes –the North Region was Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai , but as of 2015 it is now made up of Hornsby, Hunters Hill, Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, Manly, Mosman, North Sydney, Pittwater, Ryde, Warringah and Willoughby. Such changes are always a cause for concern).
Local Environment Plans (LEP) – remain the principal legal instrument that controls land use and what can be built where within the Council area and, if necessary, may need to be modified to accommodate the result of subregional plans such as the 2010 Housing Strategies.
Community Strategic Plans (CSP) – referred to as ‘whole of community plans’ prepared by Councils in response to the growth targets identified in the Subregional Planning above. The Hornsby Shire CSP is entirely a different document and Council’s Housing Strategies, as for example in 2010, are prepared to address new housing targets.
(Note – Great Sydney Commission – a dedicated new independent body responsible to drive the implementation of the ‘Plan for Growing Sydney’, to ensure that growth targets are achieved and is aligned with infrastructure in the right place at the right time, and to monitor Local Environment Plans. The Commission’s powers, visibility, accountability, independence and modis operandi should be the subject of community interest).
These development proposals start with the developer asking the Minister for Planning to approve a land rezoning for a specific development purpose which, if approved, results in the Department of Planning setting a ‘gateway process’ for Council to follow in assessing the proposal. Such proposals effectively remove the community from the planning process and put Council, the consent authority, in a time and process straight jacket. The end result being that an LEP amendment is effectively being mandated by the Minister.
The community is generally not well served by the overall ‘planning system’. The Trust’s objective of being involved in the above land use and development control matters is to strive for Certainty, Consistency, Participation and Representation.
We want to see:
LEP / DCP planning instruments that provide certainty
Consistency in Council decision making
Participation meaning influence and partnership with Council, not a consultation box tick
Elected Representation of the community in Council, as opposed to the reverse.