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Ground-breaking changes for NSW

By Staff Reporter
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New South Wales is set for economic growth under the biggest overhaul of the state’s planning system in over 30 years.

NSW premier Barry O’Farrell and minister for infrastructure Brad Hazzard released the Planning white paper earlier this week, which outlines the transformation of the planning system.

Under the changes, communities and local councils will come together to plan for housing, jobs and infrastructure.

“Within five years, we are aiming for 80 per cent of applications to go through a faster code assessments process, which has the potential to save the community and business around $170 million a year through reduced delays,” Mr O’Farrell said.

The new system aims to iron out the complexities in the planning system, and support growth through key elements.  

Martin Bregozzo, senior property economist at BIS Shrapnel, told Smart Property Investment that any changes that drives certainty while speeding up the process is a positive.

“My question is why do these projects spend six months or more - sometimes much more - in council trying to get approved and then even with approval, the project may be halted as someone objects?” he questioned.

“If the new Act simply addresses this - which is what it says it does - then it will be a great step in the right direction for housing in the state.”

While there will still be a chronic shortage of dwellings, Mr Bregozzo believes the changes will open up opportunities for investors.

“This is what needs to happen to reduce costs and maintain the momentum of growth. It sends a positive message to the construction sector,” he added.

According to JBA Planning, a series of Regional Growth Plans will form the basis of strategic planning in the region.

Particular high growth areas of the state will also be covered by Subregional Delivery Plans, which will identify how housing, employment and environmental targets outlined in the Regional Growth Plans will be achieved.

At a more local level, each council will also prepare a Local Plan, outlining land use and zoning for land within a Local Government Area (LGA), and development guidelines with more detail standards for development.

“Many of these changes are ground-breaking and in some instances an Australian-first,” Mr Hazzard said.

“It turns the current planning system on its head by ensuring communities create strong long-term plans for suburbs and regions, and spend less time on debilitating site-specific development wars.”

The white paper, which follows feedback received on the green paper released mid-last year and outlined policy options, will be on exhibition until Friday 28 June 2013.

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