UDIA: Time to depoliticise council planning


UDIA: Time to depoliticise council planning

Posted on Friday, August 28 2015 at 10:42 AM

The state government’s decision to disallow those with a pecuniary interest to vote on council matters is a good first step but more needs to be done to depoliticise council planning decisions, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) NSW.

UDIA NSW chief executive
Stephen Albin says any number of councillors could be considered to have “pecuniary

“In reality, who
doesn’t have a pecuniary interest in decisions about development approvals in a
local area?” he asks.

“What about the councillors
that are keen to stop growth and reduce the supply of housing and see their own
property values rise on the back of this – is this not a pecuniary interest in
a decision?”

Albin says that
in order to support the reversal of the Act amendment, independent hearings and
assessment panels, made up of experts that are truly independent, should be
engaged to review the decisions of planners within councils.

 “The whole
planning system needs to be depoliticised and quickly. Identifying pecuniary
interest is so fraught we should consider leaving it to the experts.” 

Albin says councils
spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually to employ urban planners to
process approvals and prepare strategic development controls, and too often the
decisions of these staff are overturned by councils with a political agenda.

“The good thing
about this debate is it could lead to sensible policy approaches,” he says.

“The most
sensible approach is to let anyone that’s a fit and proper person become a
local councillor – including those with an understanding of real estate and
planning controls – and take the politics out of planning by introducing
independent panels to properly consider development applications.

“Only then will
we get a fair system that looks after the communities’ long-term interests and takes
the politics out of planning.” 

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