Property Council welcomes changes to planning proposals and rezoning processes

The Property Council of Australia is pleased that Planning Minister Rob Stokes has announced critical changes to planning proposals and rezoning processes at the Property Councils Revitalising our State breakfast event on December 15.

Property Council’s NSW Executive Director Luke Achterstraat said he welcomed the changes announced by the Minister, which will address some of the issues and problems which should alleviate pressure on housing affordability and development.

“With only 1 of 35 local councils in greater Sydney on track to meet their housing targets, it is clear that greater accountability and timeframes for approvals need to be set,” Mr Achterstraat said.

“These changes introduced have included timeframes for assessment of planning proposals which will help planning proposals that have sat in the planning system for unacceptably long periods of time, awaiting assessment.

“When a proposed development requires an adjustment to a planning control, the proponent must lodge a planning proposal. The process of obtaining approval can be lengthy, costly, uncertain and onerous, for even minor amendments.

“One application was sitting in system for nine years. This uncertainty deters investment and development, and adds additional holdings costs to development, which then drives up the cost of housing and property.”

Mr Achterstraat said planning proposal process over the years had become increasingly complex, lengthy and difficult for developers to navigate, with no consistency or certainty in outcomes.

“These reforms are refreshing and we are looking forward to seeing improvement,” he said.

Mr Achterstraat said he was happy to see changes to the ‘rezoning review’ process.

“In particular the removal of hostile councils from the assessment and approval of rezonings which have been recognised by the Department of Planning as having merit,” he said.

“Previously, if a council refused a rezoning, the proponent could ask for a review by the relevant planning panel and if recognised as having importance, it was given back to the council to finalise, even though the council had previously indicated it did not support the planning proposal.

‘While these changes are very much supported, more needs to done to ensure councils have adequate planning resources to assess and determine applications. A clear part of the problem is the lack of appropriately qualified and skilled planning resources in the local government sector.

“Fixing our planning system will not happen overnight but the recognition of these supply issues is a very positive step – the Secretary’s focus on delivery, collaboration and trouble-shooting are excellent principles to take into 2022.”

  Aidan Green | E: [email protected]