Simon Corbell has just announced a Planning and Development Bill that significantly changes the development landscape within the ACT. The changes are largely based on work done by the Development Assessment Forum, an intergovernmental and industry body established with the main aim of reducing “red tape” in the development process.
One (of many) of the flaws with the DAF process is that there is no community representation at all and therefore the citizen perspective has been totally ignored. It is also predicated on having highly-skilled staff administering squeaky-clean planning processes – as we’ve just seen with EpiCentre, there are some doubts about this in the ACT. DAF has also totally ignored the fact that building regulation, like all regulatory systems, has been designed to prevent abuses occurring. “Red tape” has formed due to public concern over events and are generally there for very good reasons. Another weakness is that the DAF system is totally dependent upon private certifiers doing the right thing.
These private certifiers do not have a good track record – earlier this month the AAT handed down a decision on the failure of an owner-builder to properly follow planning regulations, and the certifier involved failed to pick up on serious problems. This particular certifier had already had conditions imposed on his licence.
Can we place our trust in the future development of this city in the hands of Simon Corbell, ACTPLA, LDA and private certifiers? I think not – to do so would be a continuing recipe for disaster.