PCA’s Vuvuzela Defends Tame Planners

54-11 11 April 2011 2

Catherine Carter, the Property Council’s vuvuzela (loud, monotonal, obnoxious), along with the Master Builders’ John Miller, are (predictably) staunchly defending their good mate, Neil Savery. They claim that the ACTDAA (ACT Development Approval Authority) is just following the rules when assessing development applications.

Oh that they were! They have so much discretion built into the planning act that they can, and do, allow developers to push and exceed every planning boundary. And we also know that the ACTDAA provides every possible assistance to developers prior to DAs being submitted, and then the planners simply ignore any and all comments made by adversely affected neighbours.

The PCA/MBA/HIA/ACTDAA cartel has development all wrapped up in this territory.

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2 Responses to PCA’s Vuvuzela Defends Tame Planners
Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 1:19 pm 11 Apr 11

Vuvuzela – LOL!

Crack-up headline aside, this is one of those rare times I think I agree with them. Since I’ve been dealing with ACTPLA (5 years now), I have found them largely responsive to suggestions for improved consultation. In fact, I wish that several other ACT departments would learn from ACTPLA how to do a better job themselves.

Just a few examples of issues I’ve raised at the Planning and Development Forum meetings and ACTPLA has actioned:

DA notice signs
Were: A4 laminated bit of yellow paper on a stick off in the long grass
Now: Large corflute sign on each boundary

DA newspaper notices
Were: all similar font and very hard to skim for local DAs; only had block and section details.
Now: broken up to highlight suburb and must include street address.

Online DA notices
Were: dozens of similarly named and very large PDF files that had to be individually downloaded to check for relevance – tough luck if your connection speed sucks
Now: all PDFs descriptively named, file size constrained, single-click set-and-forget bulk download option available

Territory Plan Variations
Were: just listed new clauses, forcing you to go back over old versions for comparison
Now: must list old clauses and describe reasons/effect for change

There are some things we argue about, and that’s fine too. And there could always be longer consultation periods made available on key changes. But our ability to always make submissions is more a reflection of our volunteer shortages than any fault of ACTPLA’s.

Let’s get something straight – no planning authority anywhere in Australia is required to (or even does) consult on individual DAs on behalf of a developer. Planning authorities have to consult while formulating the policy and the rules that govern subsequent DAs. They all have to ask for and take into account submissions on DAs that require public notice. But if a DA proponent wants to talk to the community about their project, then it is their role not the planning authority’s to do that.

The authority’s role is to apply the previously formulated policy as closely as they can, and to make a decision. Of course it will always be the “wrong decision” if it goes against you.

The problems that bring these sorts of sentiments to the fore are those that result from the community not taking an interest proactively until something happens on their figurative doorstep. Too late. If you really care that much about your neighbourhood then get involved during the front-end process, not after the horse has bolted. And don’t blame ACTPLA when you know you should have got involved but abdicated that responsibility to “someone else”.

But there is a lesson here for developers – involved the community yourself. GCC has a number of proponents of projects in key locations who come to our meetings to discuss their ideas – before the plans are ready to lodge. I’d like to think they get valuable feedback and suggestions for their efforts. I have appreciated seeing the plans as lodged reflect changes that came from our suggestions. And on occasion I’m pleased to see ACTPLA agree with our objections and force changes when a proponent has chosen to ignore either our suggestions or us.

EvanJames EvanJames 12:52 pm 11 Apr 11

Probably need a link to a news story, or an example of this stuff in action (which I don’t doubt is exactly what is going on) to get some comments going. Barrel O’Farrell has got rid of the NSW government’s powers to review and approve developments in the state, putting all the power back to local councils, which will be very interesting indeed, in many ways.

What has ACTDAA etc been up to that’s got you fired up, 54-11?

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