Page 3482 - Week 08 - Thursday, 18 August 2011

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The planning institute talked a lot about the DAF principles, which is the development assessment forum principles. They talk a lot about writing things clearly and objectively. They were certainly of the belief that this variation had not always achieved that. As a person who has read it, I would have to say, unfortunately, I have to agree with them.

The other thing I would like to say on a general basis is that one of the more positive things in this variation was the considerable introduction of precinct plans. Going forward, planning in the ACT is going to make a lot more use of precinct plans. In the past we have had neighbourhood plans, and I do not like saying “in the past”, but it was one of the items in the Greens-Labor agreement that neighbourhood planning be reintroduced, and I see Mr Barr smiling. This is one of the areas where, I think at this stage, we are agreeing to disagree. I am hoping that the precinct plan may be the way forward to have some more locality-based planning in a largely uniform system.

I think it is important that we have certainty, but it is also important that local communities get to have their say about what happens in their areas. That is what neighbourhood plans did. We will talk about that more at other stages, but there was clearly a considerable lapse in locality-based community consultation. I am hoping that the fact that we have a lot of precinct plans in this variation is a positive sign for more area-based consultation, and not just for master plans, local shops and shopping centres. I agree that they are important, but they are not the be-all and end-all.

Getting to the specific recommendations, the committee agreed that the draft variation proceed, and in general we were in agreement that it was a positive step forward. We made six recommendations, and I have given you the first one. The second one was that we look at sites not just as being suitable for community facilities but what community facilities they are suited to. Things that are suited to aged care may not be suited to a park, for instance. And that goes back to what I was saying about precinct planning and precinct codes. We have to look at the individual instance.

Recommendation 3 was around the terms “auxiliary use” and “minor use” and the fact that they should be clarified. This was an area which we spent quite a bit of time talking about, because it had managed to confuse not only the committee, but, as I mentioned earlier, also the planning institute. That is also dealt with in recommendations 4 and 5.

Recommendation 6 was also largely inspired by the planning institute, as they have a better knowledge than the committee as to how all the bits of planning go together. They were talking about how we should look again at the possible benefits of statements of intent. As I understand it, with the revision of the Planning and Development Act 2007, the previous policy was, in effect, swept aside. The planning institute saw that there was no way that we could put them in at this point, and they gave us a number of examples of places where they think there are mismatches in policy where we have criteria and rules no longer lining up.

It is a considerable issue if the professional institution feels that we have got it wrong. I will quote from their evidence to the committee:

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