The NSW Labor Opposition has significantly amended the O’Farrell Government’s Planning Bill in the Legislative Council, dumping what it called ‘the worst excesses of the bill that removed planning powers from local communities’.
Shadow Minister for Planning Luke Foley said the bill in its original form represented a complete betrayal of what the Coalition promised before the last election, by shutting local communities out of the planning process.
The NSW Labor Opposition worked constructively to greatly improve the bill from its original form, successfully moving 46 amendments.
Mr Foley said Labor’s amendments focussed on three core areas:
· Restoring the rights of local communities to have their say in the planning process;
· Implementing a planning regime that properly balances economic activity, environmental protections and community participation; and
· Including affordable housing provisions in the bill
‘This Bill in its original form represented a fundamental betrayal of what was promised by Barry O’Farrell before the last election,’ Mr Foley said.
‘Rather than be destructive, Labor has constructively moved amendments to improve the Bill.
‘In particular the removal of Code Assessment is a major win for the community – as it is a mechanism to fast track development that strips the community of its rights.
‘Nothing could be further from the Government’s election promise to return planning powers to local communities than Code Assessment.
‘Code Assessment is ‘Part 3A on Steroids’. It removes community members’ rights to have their say about how their neighbourhood is developed, meaning high rise can be built without community members able to object.
‘Labor also believes that economic, social and environmental factors should carry equal weighting in the planning process, which is why the bill has been amended to remove the Government’s recent Mining SEPP which places the economic value of a proposed mine above all other impacts.’
Mr Foley said Labor was still concerned by other facets of the bill, including the Strategic Compatibility Certificates, which leave a loophole allowing developers to proceed with developments that are prohibited by the local council.
‘We are concerned that this regime is open to abuse by developers,’ Mr Foley said.
‘The Government walked away from an agreement with Labor to restrict Strategic Compatibility Certificates.
‘We don’t trust this government and we will be watching carefully to see that these provisions are not abused.’