Planning Bill D-Day

The Property Council of Australia has renewed calls to remove elected officials from Development Assessment Panels as part of the Planning Bill before Parliament today.

SA Executive Director Daniel Gannon said removing Councillors from the planning process was key to professional decision-making, streamlining approvals and promoting economic growth and job creation.

“Legislative Councillors have agreed in-principle that there will be a reduction in the number of elected officials sitting on DAPs, most likely up to one member,” he said.

“So if that is the case, they clearly accept the argument around driving an outcome that would benefit small business, tourism and development for South Australia.

“Rest assured, there is a role for councillors in local planning, and that role is at the front end of the process when the policy is actually developed. At that stage it’s appropriate for councillors to advocate on behalf of their constituents.

“However, elected representatives shouldn’t be involved at the back end of the process in assessing applications – what we need is certainty for applicants and we need a depoliticised and professional process.

“Many South Australians would agree that politics is far too ubiquitous in their daily lives than it could or should be.

“And a lot of homeowners have a story about a Council application process that is red-tape heavy, unclear, takes too long and costs too much. It’s not just property developers who deal with this – we need to include households applying to build extensions on their homes or erect a new garage.

“There are countless examples of elected representatives just saying ‘no’. Small commercial expansions in metropolitan areas recommended by council staff as sound developments, and yet knocked back by councillors as a result of lobbying from residents who have influenced local representatives.

“Far too many companies and individuals simply give up because it’s just too hard. All these knockbacks slow down our economy and have an impact on jobs, investments and confidence.

“At the moment, lodging a planning application is like rolling the dice in the dark. The professionals – who aren’t affected by local politics – should assess whether an application complies with the planning rules, not an elected member with a local political agenda.

“What our state needs is professional decision-making, streamlined approvals and ongoing promotion of economic growth and job creation.

“And in order to put this professional system in place, our state’s policy makers need the requisite political courage to do so.

“After all, these changes will benefit small businesses, tourism operators and mum and dad developers who are just trying to stimulate the economy and build their own future prosperity.

“It’s time to push politics to the side and unashamedly build policy settings that accommodate jobs, development and small business – our state can’t afford to let reform opportunities like this slip.”

Planning Bill D-Day
(Adobe PDF File)