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Building & Planning

This section provides information about the planning and building services provided by Council for people living within the City of Prospect.  Please view the Related Pages menu to the right to find general information about each service or program as well as related resources and other web sites.

 

Planning the Planners

City of Prospect's  Manager of Development Services and Communications, Chris Newby, gives us an update on the review currently being undertaken on the Development Act 1993.

The South Australian planning system is primarily governed by the Development Act 1993 which has been in place since January 1994 and been amended more than 600 times. In effect, planning legislation has changed approximately 30 times a year (on average) since being introduced, in combination with changes to Development Regulations.

One of the more notable changes made was the introduction of the Residential Code, which introduced a streamlined assessment model for new dwellings and exempted a range of ancillary residential structures (such as sheds and garages) from obtaining planning consent. Some of these “as-of-right” types of development described in the legislation were (and remain) inconsistent with City of Prospect’s existing, and desired future, character of development, or exceed the size and height of such structures relative to property boundaries according to Council’s Development Plan. Further changes to the legislation mean that private certifiers can now undertake planning assessment of applications to comply with the Residential Code, whereas prior to 2013 only Council or the State’s Development Assessment Commission could undertake this assessment.

Another notable change was the introduction of “regulated trees” in 2011, in addition to the commonly understood “significant trees” legislation (which came into effect in 2000). This change meant that many previously protected trees could be removed without development approval, while other trees that still required approval were assessed against less stringent guidelines introduced into Development Plans across the State.

The many gradual changes to planning processes described by legislation, and the assessment criteria contained within both legislation and Development Plans, meant that the time was right to undertake a review of the planning system and investigate options for future reform. An independent Expert Panel on Planning Reform was appointed in February 2013, charged with providing recommendations for a better planning system to Government and Parliament.

Initially, the Expert Panel established two reference groups to support and inform the planning reform process. The Planning Reform Reference Group consisted of representatives of a wide range of community and industry groups that have a strong interest in the planning system, and included our Council CEO, Mark Goldstone, as a representative of the Local Government Association. Other key groups represented were the Environmental Defenders Office, Australian Institute of Architects, Conservation Council of SA, Business SA and the Urban Development Institute of Australia.

The second group, the Agency Reference Group, was made up of all State Government agencies that interact with the planning system. The role of this group was to inform the Panel on how their directions, options and decisions affect other State legislation or work. At this initial stage, the Expert Panel also commenced a review of the current planning system, with regard given to previous reviews of the planning system.

The Expert Panel undertook consultation with local and State government, private companies and the community. Over 1200 attendees at workshops and briefings assisted the Panel to identify key areas for reform and initial ideas on how to achieve it.

Based on feedback received, the Expert Panel finalised and released its first report in December 2013. The report, entitled What We Have Heard, summarised the range of experiences people and groups have had with the planning system, as well as identifying possible ideas for reform and questions that warranted further exploration.

Following consultation on the first report, the Expert Panel released its second report in August 2014. Our Ideas for Reform put forward 27 reform ideas for further debate and discussion, such as:

  • establishing a State Planning Commission as the pre-eminent state planning body, which would replace a number of state planning bodies and work with local councils and government agencies, while advising the Minister for Planning on how to achieve state priorities.
  • Establish a network of regional planning boards to assist with policy development and implementation, informed by the community through a legislated charter of citizen participation to ensure effective community engagement at all stages of the planning process.
  • Urban renewal would be based on a precinct model, allowing for more effective provision of open space, parks and urban greenery, supplemented by new tools for the delivery of infrastructure.
  • Planning documents would be standardised for clarity and consistency, while planning documents would be reshaped based on a regional basis. The process to change a Development Plan to respond to community needs would be made quicker, easier and more transparent.
  • Principles of good urban design, such as streetscape and character protection, would be built into planning policy and complemented by a heritage code of practice to outline how listed properties can be maintained and adapted.
  • Planning assessment pathways would be made clearer, with improved consultation with neighbours on development applications and a more accessible appeals process. Revised enforcement options for Councils would also assist in regulating development.

Following the receipt of in excess of 170 submissions from individuals, groups, organisations, local government and government agencies, the Expert Panel refined its recommendations and provided its final report to the Minister for Planning in December 2014.

The report, entitled ‘The Planning System we want’outlines 22 recommendations for a reformed planning system. In making these recommendations, the Panel found a system struggling to deliver the outcomes people want which is in need of an overhaul in a number of key areas. Informed by more than 2,500 people who had input during the review, the Panel identified that planning in South Australia has become unnecessarily costly, complicated, cumbersome and focused on processes rather than outcomes.

The Panel suggests that the planning system discourages innovation while locking out new investment. It frequently generates divisive debate for minimal gain, and often fails to protect the things we value as a society. These effects are compounded by duplication and layers of inefficient practices that have become entrenched and add to costs for taxpayers and ratepayers.

The Panel identified that land is one of our most valuable resources and once a decision is made to use land in a certain way, changing this can cause great difficulties. A decision made at a particular point in time has enormous ramifications for many years ahead. That is why our planning system must result in decisions that are founded on high quality directions and policies that are transparent and can withstand close analysis, and that, fundamentally, deliver the best places for South Australians to live and work.

In March 2015, the Government of South Australia released its response to the Expert Panel on Planning Reform’s recommendations. The Government has determined to support, in principle, further investigation- or partially support each of the 22 proposals recommended by the Expert Panel

Drafting of new legislation has now commenced, consultation with key stakeholders will continue and a Bill is targeted for introduction to Parliament in July 2015.  Debate on the legislation will commence in September. Given the extent of the reforms that have been proposed, legislation is likely to be commenced in stages over the course of 2016-2017. It is anticipated that elements of the reforms will be phased in over a 3 year period, following the commencement of a new Act to replace the Development Act.

These are interesting times for Council and its community, with targeted improvements aimed at restoring the focus of and providing balance to the planning system.

For further information on the planning reform process, please refer to www.thinkdesigndeliver.sa.gov.au.

A copy of the ‘Transforming our Planning System’ report can be accessed at www.dpti.sa.gov.au/planning/planning_reform

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