Page 4829 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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ACTPLA—development proposals

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the Minister for Planning and is in regard to community engagement. Minister, in response to a previous question in October, you advised us that it was the Assembly, through legislation, that determined the degree of consultation required in development applications.

However, in November, in your response to a question taken on notice during the annual reports public hearing of the planning and environment committee, you argued that ACTPLA’s community engagement officer is not expected to anticipate community concerns regarding development proposals and that that responsibility, if it falls anywhere, falls to community councils. Furthermore, we were advised that ACTPLA does not provide extra information about proposed development, such as diagrams on site or at shopping centres, because there is no statutory requirement to do so.

Can you please advise the Assembly if ACTPLA is expected to pick up the government’s community engagement aspirations, as espoused in the community engagement manual, or is it only expected to meet statutory consultation requirements?

MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. There are a couple of issues that need to be addressed here. There are essentially two types of community engagement that the ACT Planning and Land Authority is required to undertake. One is in accordance simply with government policy. The other is in accordance with formal statutory processes, as outlined in the land act.

If I may elaborate on the latter, in relation to a development proposal that has been formally lodged for assessment and potential approval by the planning authority, the planning authority is required to comply with the letter of the act as to who is advised, who is allowed to comment, what standing they have in relation to their comments and whether or not the people who have made comments or objections are entitled to seek review of a decision subsequently made by the authority if they are unhappy with it. That is the statutory process that ACTPLA must undertake.

But there are, of course, other processes that the planning authority also undertakes in relation to non-statutory processes. A good example of that is in relation to the Molonglo Valley. At the moment the planning authority is doing a detailed assessment of the suitability of the Molonglo Valley for urban development. At this stage there is no statutory requirement around that. There is no formal requirement in legislation to go out and consult in relation to the development of concept planning for the Molonglo Valley.

The planning authority in that instance has done a detailed letterbox drop. It has letterboxed every house in Weston Creek, providing residents with an update on what is happening in the Molonglo Valley. It has letterboxed a number of suburbs in west Belconnen. Again, those suburbs are most adjacent to potential development in the Molonglo Valley. It has held community information meetings. It has held staffed and unstaffed displays at shopping centres. It has conducted a range of one-on-one interviews and public consultation sessions. It has conducted its own planning sessions with community members. That is an example of the sort of work the planning authority does in relation to non-statutory activity.

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