Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (17 August) . . Page.. 2305..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
too broad in its impact and reduced the ability for community interests, which were already lacking channels, to be heard.
It is possible that ministers and ACTPLA executives could forget, from removal from the streets of Canberra, that the government's perspective on urban planning and development projects should be one of seeking to maximise the fulfilment of community needs and interests. After all, this is what we are building Canberra for. Dealing with developers all day and seeing less of the community it could be easy to forget the aim of the job. Yes, it is really important that developers' interests should be represented and heard, because they are the people who bring the capital to develop, to put the buildings up, but they should be buildings and developments that the community wants.
If there are complementarities between community and developer interest, that is a good thing and such synergies should be pursued and nurtured. We know that is not necessarily an easy thing because those of us who watched the redevelopment of the Griffin Centre will be aware that it is not always easy to get people who are used to building office blocks to be able to build buildings that suit the needs of community organisations. So this area needs a lot more work as well. But we need to be sure that we do not introduce broad-based regulations that have one aim but have another impact along the way.
The voices of those who have only a marginal financial or personal interest but perhaps a large philosophical interest in the form of urban development need to be heard. They might have other than financial expertise, such as ecological expertise or social expertise, and concerns that are often not taken into account by the developers who are looking at their bottom line. We know planners are busy. We know a streamlined development approval process is coming up and we are not yet sure that it is going to take into account all these multitudes of things that the community is interested in.
People in the community, especially the Canberra community, have a passionate interest in urban planning. A lot of people have expertise, and a lot of people are aware of the architectural implications of buildings in a heritage area-of impacts on street crime, for instance. There is a whole area of research out there that looks at planning from the point of view of whether it makes it easier or more difficult to commit crimes, to hide, to make it unsafe for women and children, and of course health problems. These are issues that should be sought out and represented by ACTPLA and the government, but they are not always. That is where the community comes in.
This is especially important when consultation processes have narrowed down, so we do not have for every town centre to which this regulation applies a consultation process by which ordinary people can be involved. Community councils have a role but they are not adequate conduits and, of course, they are run by volunteers. This work requires us to hear them not just when people get in touch with us and complain or want a say. We need more active mechanisms at the front end of development but we should not be cutting out mechanisms at the back end.
I believe that allowing for opportunities for such interests to be represented in the planning process is a sign of good governance. I know there is a point beyond which excessive community appeal rights and review processes can become impractical, counterproductive and wasteful. But this amendment appears to represent a shift in