COMMUNITY members have less than two months to comment on the NSW Government's recently launched Green Paper which aims to a more transparent, effective and efficient planning system.
The document outlines ways the government will try to involve the community early in guiding planning decisions, place more emphasis on preparing good policies upfront, reduce red tape and delays, ensure infrastructure is planned for and delivered and provide greater access to information.
Member for Monaro John Barilaro praised the paper providing clarity and making it simpler for the average property owner to get on with approvals for homes and businesses.
"A Public Participation Charter will be developed which will require the community to be consulted as part of the plan-making and development assessment process," he said. "Residents will also be able to access planning information in simple language and view all relevant planning guidelines for their land by pressing a button or two on a computer."
Mr Barilaro said there will also be clearer guidelines on the land uses and zonings of particular areas.
"The report also highlights that councils should give some serious consideration to adopting independent hearing and assessment panels as has happened in 11 councils already (voluntarily) across the state."
However, Mr Barilaro's enthusiasm is not echoed by all as Queanbeyan-Monaro Greens spokesperson and council election candidate Katrina Willis said the proposed laws will curtail the role of resident and local council. "Community participation is to be limited to strategic planning decisions. Residents will be locked out from participating in the assessment of particular developments," she said. "Councillors also will lose the right to determine development applications; this will be done by people appointed to panels, not elected representatives."
Ms Willis said she was concerned about the impact of the proposed changes because of the amount of development foreshadowed for Queanbeyan City over coming years including re-development of the city centre, new town developments and continued infill housing. She said the planning proposals are a far cry from the Liberal-National Coalition's pre-election pledge to restore local control over planning.
"Development Control Plans setting out detailed planning rules are to be replaced with development guidelines designed to deliver "flexibility"," she said. "This, combined with the loss of local control over decision making will create uncertainty about just what kind of development will be approved.
"In addition, environmentally sustainable development has been removed from the objectives of the new planning Act, making it more difficult to improve building and design standards that are needed to improve the energy performance of new buildings."
The Green Paper can be viewed at www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/newplanningsystem. Submissions on the planning Green Paper close on 14 September.