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The illusory promise of trees, greening, open space and car parking management in urban infill, and the fudged and false reassurance about the protection of Contributory Items.

Urban Infill Paradise?

There is no doubt that the spin from the State Planning Commission (SPC) and the Department of Planning is becoming more refined and, even, sophisticated.

It is a pity that more effort is not put into making the Code workable and acceptable rather than trying to justify and promote the ongoing mess it is creating.

The latest document ‘Raising the bar on Residential Infill in the Planning and Design Code’ and its accompanying letter from the SPC Chair view the latest proposals around urban infill through rose-tinted glasses.

The original basic criteria for trees, greening, open space, parking, street ‘appeal’ and water management have been embellished with the addition of illusory promises and un- enforceable pseudo-regulations.

There is liberal and disturbing use of the terms ‘deemed to satisfy’, ‘performance outcome’ and ‘performance assessed’ which are code for flexible interpretation of the ‘provisions’ and an invitation to owners and developers to do what they like.

Contributory Item Confusion

A key element of the Planning and Design Code is the failure to transition Contributory Items (CIs) to any sort of identifiable protected status.
CIs are typically part of a group of buildings of historical importance that contribute to the character of an area. The vast majority lie in Historic Conservation Zones or their proposed counterpart, Historic Area Overlays.

Councils have been encouraged to re-designate CIs as Local Heritage, to give them some degree of protection. This will happen for only a minority of Cis.

The remaining large majority will lose whatever specific protections currently exist for these places. This is not clear in the information promulgated by the SPC….to MPs, Councils and the community.

The vague and confusing Historic Area Statements proposed in the Code offer no reassurance of robust protection for CIs.

The, albeit weak, demolition controls protecting Heritage Items do not apply to CIs, but this is not readily apparent in the contrived and misleading verbiage we are fed by the Planning bureaucracy.

This is Planning Policy ‘On the Run’

We must remain suspicious and sceptical about the motivation and process of the SPC as it tries to patch up the mess it has created.

What is happening now is expedient policy making ‘on the run’. It is eight months since the unsuccessful ‘consultation’ process concluded. There has been no further public consultation on the Planning and Design Code since then.

Now we are seeing new, more fanciful and unhelpful reports and documents appearing, in what appears to be a new strategy of the SPC to debate its ill-formed policies in the public arena.

This circuitous process must be brought to an end. The failures, shortcomings and budgetary problems surrounding the Code and the associated e-planning systems must be exposed to the light of day.

What is needed is a strong political directive to defer, consult, correct and repair the damaged Code in order to find a way forward.

A key starting point will be the institution of a new and genuine consultation process which will establish the imperatives for the, eventual, creation of a workable and broadly acceptable Code.

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.

Phone: 0419 852 622

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au

The new Planning Minister Vickie Chapman has publicly stated that she is prepared to review some of the many problems with the Planning and Design Code, and to delay its implementation.

We now have a window of opportunity to capitalise on this delay and convince the Government that this flawed and unpopular attempt at planning reform is attracting increased community attention, and may threaten their re-election prospects.

I urge you, again, to write to your local MPs and to members of the Upper House (list of MPs)

In response to many requests, I also attach a draft Letter for this purpose which you may chose to use as it is, or to use it to inform your own words.

Letters to our politicians need not be long and they can be repetitious. The main thing is to communicate so that an extensive correspondence is generated and logged in their parliamentary and electoral offices.

With Best Regards
Warren Jones AO

Dear Supporter and Concerned member of the community,

We now have an opportunity to divert the course of the deeply flawed Planning and Design Code into a new phase of genuine consultation, review and amendment.

If there was ever a need for a review of the damaging activities of the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP), it can be seen in two recent decisions which unashamedly favour developers over heritage and responsible urban planning.

The approval of a  17 storey motel in Wright St will see the effective destruction of a row of bluestone cottages with the unsatisfactory retention of the façade.

The second Adelaide City Council approval is for a 21 storey glass-clad hotel at the former Bank of Adelaide site on Pirie St and will involve the complete removal of the heritage listed 1920’s former bank building (below).

Both properties slated for demolition are local heritage listed.  The proposed developments have been criticised by the State Government Architect.   The cautionary aspect of these decisions is that, within the City of Adelaide, application approvals can bypass heritage and height criteria in the name of the designs being ‘merit based’.

The flexible interpretation of this meaningless definition means that SCAP can be complicit in aiding developers in flouting what should be immutable design criteria, if not regulations.  

This foreshadows what is ahead  across the metropolitan area if the Planning and Design code is implemented in its current form.  The development rules that have protected our heritage and urban amenity for decades will be ditched for an anything goes approach with unelected and unaccountable bodies such as SCAP making decisions that will impact everyone.

But the advent of new Planning Minister Vickie Chapman creates an opportunity to have the Code reassessed and amended.  I urge you to continue to keep up the pressure, by re-enforcing with her your concerns about the Code at her Bragg Electoral Office.

It seems clear that the Government has decided to take ultimate control of the new planning process out of the hands of an irresponsible bureaucracy which has created such a chaotic mess.   This could be a real circuit-breaker in our efforts to be heard.

As I have indicated previously, the other effective avenue for protest and change is the Parliamentary Legislative Review Committee as it considers the 14,000 signature Petition submitted by the Protect our Heritage Alliance. The LRC is now seeking written public submissions regarding the matters raised in the petition.

The Petition calls for further, but genuine, consultation on the Planning and Design Code, an examination of the governance of the State Planning Commission and SCAP to increase transparency and accountability and minimise conflicts of interest, and a review of the content and impact of the draft Code.   It also calls for the banning of donations to political parties by developers.

Your submissions should reference Petition No 2 (Protect our Heritage) and be sent to:  Matt Balfour, LRC Secretary  (Phone 8237 9415) Email:  seclrc@parliament.sa.gov.au

Your submissions on any aspect of the Petition and the Code will be accepted by the Committee by close of business on Monday 14 September.

Please make your views known.  This may be the last opportunity.

With Best Regards

Warren Jones AO
Convenor

18 August 2020

Ask the Parliament to fix the planning mess.

We have reached a critical point in the fight to halt and defer the implementation of the flawed policy and process of the Government’s Planning and Design Code.

Even though the Phase 2 (rural) Code has already ‘gone live’, it is not too late to halt and review the whole process. This would mean deferring Phase 3 (metropolitan) for as long as it takes to review and repair it, and re-appraising the future of Phase 1 (remote) and Phase 2.

This prospect has now become feasible because of several recent developments.

The discredited Stephan Knoll has been replaced as Planning Minister by Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman, who has an encouragingly enlightened attitude to planning reform and heritage.

A news report last week confirmed the unreadiness of the Code for implementation and the concerns of the building industries at the prospect of dealing with unprepared, confusing and uncertain administrative processes for the assessment and approval of development applications.

There is now very real industrial, political and community pressure to delay any further moves to Code implementation until 2021.

We are aware that the Government, at last, has recognised the intransigent incompetence of the State Planning Commission and DPTI in creating such a mess of the Planning and Design Code.

With the advent of Vickie Chapman to the Planning Portfolio, there is an opportunity for Cabinet to break the damaging stranglehold of the bureaucracy on the planning system. We have hopes that this will lead, not only to implementation deferral, but to a constructive review of issues such as contributory items, zoning, block sizes, height allowances and
the protection of heritage, trees and open space.

We now also have another opportunity to influence the political process through the Parliament’s Legislative Review Committee (LRC) which is considering the 14,000 signature Protect our Heritage Petition, which many of you signed earlier in the year. The Petition calls on the Parliament to review the operation of the new Planning Act and the State Planning

Commission and to defer implementation of the Code pending genuine community consultation.

The LRC has now called for written public submissions for its consideration. This is your best chance to be heard by the Parliament and to prevent the further erosion of community rights, public accountability and protections for our environment and heritage.

Submissions close on 14 September 2020.

The LRC will Report in due course to the Minister who, in turn, must respond and report to Parliament.

We now have a gateway of opportunity to exert renewed influence on the planning process. This pressure must now be political. Cabinet has lost confidence in the planning bureaucracy, and the real battle now is for the hearts and minds of Government MPs whose political future is in increasing jeopardy.

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.

Phone: 0419 852 622

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au

facebook.com/protectourheritageSA/

Time to pause and consult

Dear Supporter and Concerned member of the community,

The Phase 2 (rural) Planning and Design Code ‘went live’ on Friday 31 July 2020. This was despite clear and strident feedback from country Councils that they are unprepared, under- resourced and inadequately staffed to cope with the complex new system and its, still incomplete, e-planning platform.

This is all part of the unrestrained and damaging scramble by the State Planning Commission (SPC) and the Planning Department (DPTI) to impose a confusing and unworkable policy framework which will attempt to override long established and accepted planning practices specific to Council areas. The Government’s promise of a ‘one size fits all’ rationalisation of planning processes throughout the State is unrealistic and unacceptable to local communities.

A key part of the unrest and Code implementation pushback was generated by the short-term and inadequate consultation particularly with rural Councils and their communities. The statutory obligations of the Community Engagement Charter were ignored by the SPC. Community feedback was largely disregarded, and a Planning and Design Code that was mainly the brainchild of the development, construction and building industry is at risk of being foisted on a disenfranchised public.

And now, in the aftermath of the discrediting of former Minister Stephan Knoll, we have a new Planning Minister, Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman. On face value, this is a welcome development. New Minister Chapman has a background of an enlightened attitude to planning policy and heritage protection. She was one of the more strident of her Liberal colleagues, when in Opposition, to speak against John Rau’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure (2016) Act.

Given the mess she has now inherited and, which she must, by now, have discerned as a threat to Government-held city electorates, including hers, it is to be hoped that she will review and re-consider the future of the Code implementation process.

In the first instance we must urge her to defer the deployment of the Phase 3 (metropolitan) Code in accord with the wishes, not only of communities and key concerned organisations, but also of Industry bodies, who fear the chaos of a poorly planned and managed implementation. Secondly, we urge her to ensure that the community is now given a genuine opportunity to debate the sweeping changes being imposed by stealth through the Planning and Design Code.

The proposed new planning system was Labor’s baby, but the Liberal Government has inherited its rearing, although it is at the mercy of a bureaucratic nursemaid who, at present, holds sway over rational political oversight.

It is to be hoped that the new Minister will be able to break this nexus and set the process on a new path. I urge you to contact her at her Bragg Electoral Office to encourage her to heed and act on the concerns of a much neglected community voice.

With Best Regards

Warren Jones AO

STOP THE CODE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Write to your local MP and ask for an independent review of the management and costs of the Planning & Design Code, before it progresses any further.

Download a list of State MP contacts

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment. GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au

Facebook: protectourheritageSA

24 July 2020

The SA State Planning Commission (SPC) was established in April 2017 as the, nominally independent, principal planning and administrative body for the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act (2016).

Three of the four current Members have links to the development industry. The Chair is associated with a development company, Housing Choices Australia, which has building interests in Adelaide, and is a client of the South Australian Government.

Understandably, there is an inherent public perception of conflict of interest in a system where developers dictate and monitor planning policy with such widespread implications for the wellbeing and lived amenity of all South Australians.

The property, building and development industries seem to have had an inordinate influence on the development of the draft Planning and Design Code, so it is no surprise that the Code favours their interests over those of other concerned stakeholders and local communities.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) has been front and centre in offering advice and courtesies to the Planning Minister, the SPC and the planning department. This peak development industry body provided the blueprint for the Code. It also brokered and fostered a study group tour of the UK involving government and industry representatives.

Even more insidious was the caution delivered by the UDIA to the SPC ‘…….that the Community Engagement Charter should not be relied on too heavily’…… in promoting community understanding of the new planning system. And this biased advice came from the Chair of the UDIA’s Infill Development and Urban Renewal Committee, himself a member of the SPC.

The transparency of the SPC can be called into question by an analysis of the status of agenda items in its meetings, particularly during the tenure of the current Chair.
Under the first Chair of the SPC (to August 2018) 17% of agenda items were designated as confidential. Under the current Chair (from October 2018 to present) this figure is 50%, and an alarming 63% this year.

It is hard to believe that two-thirds of SPC business is ‘commercial in confidence’, but, indeed, if that is the case, it raises questions about the major emphasis on private development and commercial interests in the planning system, at the expense of the rights of the community at large.

Looking back on this, so-called, planning reform, it has been a catalogue of bad policy, made worse by an attenuated, complicated and expensive process of system development and implementation that has bypassed the Community Engagement Charter. Worse still, the oversight of the Planning and Design Code has been tainted by concerns about conflicted interests, transparency and a lack of public accountability.

It is time for some independent scrutiny of the State Planning Commission and its growing secrecy and lack of transparency.

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.
Phone: 0419 852 622

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au

facebook.com/protectourheritageSA/

Dear Supporter/Concerned member of the community

There has been a recent flurry of promotional material on the proposed Planning and Design Code emanating from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI). This is a favourite bureaucratic ploy of Government Departments when they have lost their way and want to confuse or mislead the public.

It is clear that the Code is in trouble. Despite the dogged persistence of the Planning Minister in insisting that the ‘reform’ process is on track, that the e-planning system is workable and that implementation is imminent, flaws and cracks are appearing that would suggest otherwise.

The latest Reports on the Code Phase 2 (rural) and Phase 3 (metropolitan) indicate that the whole process is in a state of confusion and flux, with strong community opposition to many aspects of the code and major concerns about the community engagement process. Test demonstrations of the e-planning system have revealed ongoing problems and deficiencies.

The e-planning platform has been developed at great expense and with difficulty by DPTI, despite much simpler, more efficient and cheaper options being available interstate. And, now, unsurprisingly, the Minister is running short of money to support his ill-formed, attenuated and deeply unpopular planning ‘reforms’.

Despite this, it appears to be the intent of the Minister, the State Planning Commission (SPC) and DPTI to rush to implementation, even though policies and systems have yet to be clearly defined. This is a recipe for disaster and would alienate Councils and communities and throw the building and development industries into chaos.

One of the few enlightened provisions in the original Planning, Development and infrastructure Act (2016) was the establishment of a Planning and Development (‘Open Space’) Fund, financed by a levy on the building industry. This Fund provides for the creation of open space and greening in association with infill and other urban developments.

It is now evident that the ‘Open Space’ Fund has been plundered by the Planning Minister to prop-up the budget shortfall in the development and implementation of the Planning and design Code. As detailed in Hansard, on 18 June 2020, the Minister varied Section 25/Regulation 119 of the PDI (2016) Act to allow the Fund to be applied to:

  • the SA planning portal website and database;
  • the online atlas and search facility;
  • the online delivery of planning services, and
  • the Planning and Design Code.

This manouvre seemed designed to legitimise a covert process of siphoning-off money from the Fund to augment the DPTI budget relating to the Code. And it appears that this has been going on for three years.

So, here we have a proposed new planning system, predicated on crowded infill and highrise urban over-densification, being subsidised by a Fund which was established to mitigate against these very consequences.

The public deserves to know more details about the financial management of the Code……budget allocations, expenditures and overruns… and a realistic and honest indication of timelines and outcomes, particularly in relation to the troubled e-planning system. See Advertiser story today– (requires subscription)

In the meantime, the Minister must answer for his mishandling of the planning ‘reform’ process, which raises question of maladministration within the SPC and DPTI. The Government must pause the implementation of the Planning and Design Code pending a review and inquiry into its administration and budget.

How could the Government have got it so wrong, and at what expense to taxpayers and the community? 14 000 South Australians have already asked for a review of the Code through the Protect our Heritage petition, which Parliament is still yet to consider.

I urge you to let your member of Parliament know that you are not happy about the siphoning of monies from the open space fund to prop up the deeply flawed Planning and Design Code. Alternatively, please write to the upper house members who will be reviewing the Code through one of two Parliamentary Committees. We need to demand accountability and transparency for this escalating debacle.

With Best Regards
Warren Jones AO

AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW IS NEEDED NOW!

Write to your local MP and ask for an independent review of the management and costs of the Planning & Design Code, before it progresses any further.

Download a list of State MP contacts

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment. GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au

Facebook: protectourheritageSA

7 July 2020

As the financial year came to a close it was becoming clear that the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) was experiencing difficulty in sustaining the technical and financial burden of the monstrosity it had unleashed in the form of the Planning and Design Code.

The opaqueness, complexity and confusion hidden within the 62,000 page Code has been an insulting indictment of government credibility and failed public engagement. It has become an embarrassing millstone of bad Government policy and bureaucratic ineptitude, hanging around the neck of Planning Minister Stephan Knoll.

The ill-conceived and inordinately complicated e-planning platform designed to implement and maintain the Code has been developed at great expense and difficulty by DPTI, despite much simpler and cheaper options being available interstate. And now, unsurprisingly, the Minister has run out of money to continue this attenuated and ill-fated planning ‘reform’.

And so it was, in parliament on 18 June, that the Minister varied Section 25 of the Regulations of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act (2016) to allow him to plunder the Planning and Development Fund in order to prop-up his moribund planning process.

He ignored the fact that this Fund, subsidised by a levy on the building industry, was established to provide for the creation of open space within urban infill developments.

So, here we have a Minister, with carriage of a proposed new planning system, predicated on crowded infill and high rise over-densification, plundering the fund designed to address the consequences of vanishing green space for more of his bureaucratic misadventures.

This latest manoeuvre again raises issues about the probity and appropriateness of the Government’s intention to implement the Code in the face of the serious concerns about community engagement, transparency and accountability.

14 000 South Australians have already signed a petition to the Parliament calling for a deferment of the implementation of the Planning and Design Code and an independent review of the governance and operation of the State Planning Commission.

The public deserves to know details about the financial management of the Code – budget allocations, expenditures and overruns – and a realistic indication of timelines and outcomes, in particular relating to the troubled e-planning system.

Until this information is available, the Parliament must sanction the Minister for his ineptitude and his Department for inefficiency. The Government must call a pause in the implementation of the new planning system until there is a formal review or a public or parliamentary inquiry to explain how the much vaunted planning ‘reforms’ have gone so wrong and how much they have already cost the community.

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.

Phone: 0419 852 622

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au

facebook.com/protectourheritageSA/

Dear Supporter/Concerned Member of the Community,

The State Government’s draft Planning and Design Code was released in an ill-formed and incomplete state in October 2019. Since then the general public and community groups have been offered a spurious consultation process cloaked in an extensive, but illusory opportunity to comment and receive feedback on the Code.

Despite the recent release of the Engagement Report on Phase 2 (rural) of the Code and the ‘What we have heard’ Report on Phase 3 (metropolitan), the public continues to be studiously ignored in the formulation of many of the important aspects of the new planning policy for the State. This is in direct contravention of the statutory Community Engagement Charter, which accompanied the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act when it was introduced in 2016.

On the other hand, the property, building, construction and development industries have been privy to, and deeply involved in the formulation, structure and content of the Code. The Code has been drafted to a prescription they wrote years ago.

The pivotal role of the industry lobby in the new planning system was revealed in a letter from the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) on 7 October 2016 to the then Planning Minister John Rau. The letter outlined the UDIA’s requirements for a revised status for heritage items under the new system. They included the elimination of Contributory Items, weakened demolition protections, neglect of character streetscapes, and the removal of accreditation requirements for property assessment ‘experts’.

The ’Minister’s Liaison Group’ is a peak body providing advice on the Code to Planning Minister Knoll. Along with State and Local Government members, it comprises representatives of industry authorities, developers and investment bankers. There is no involvement of heritage, environment or community groups.

The UDIA has been a key player in the planning process. On 8 December 2019 it issued a written directive to the Minister stating:
‘……..ongoing dialogue between the State Planning Commission (SPC), Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI), the Minister and the UDIA will provide the clearest and most direct pathway to addressing issues with the roll-out of a new planning system.’ No room for the public here!

Along with a re-iteration of its earlier ‘advice’ to remove Contributory Items, the UDIA has promoted or contributed the following input into the draft Code:

  • The wording of provisions and time frames and the avoidance of ‘onerous’ documentation
  • ‘Expeditious’ processing of development
  • Matters referred to the SPC, an unelected body accountable only to the Minister.
  • Advance access to e-planning to expedite future development processes
  • Facilitating infill development
  • Close engagement of Industry and the private sector in the Code
  • ‘Open space’ definition to include verandas and alfresco areas
  • Reduced soft-landscaping requirements
  • Restricted public notification of development applications.

It is no surprise, therefore, that these industry requirements have been included in the Code documentation. Almost to the letter. Whilst public concerns go unheeded.

Yet another example of the very close relationship between industry, key Government planning agencies and the Minister was a study tour to the UK brokered and organised by the UDIA. The tour group which spent eight days travelling, meeting, dining and sightseeing together in April 2019 comprised the Planning Minister, the Chair of the SPC, senior DPTI officials and a cross section of industry representatives…..but no advocates for the environment, heritage or the community.

Given the close ties between industry, the Government and its planning agencies, it is easy to understand the bias towards developers in the formulation and planned implementation of the Code. But this comes at the expense of genuine public consultation and engagement and with disregard of widespread community concern about the future of our built and natural environment.

The new reports reveal the sham of public consultation around a Code that was offered for public comment in an inaccessible, half-baked form, that even experts could not fully understand. Buried in the lengthy report on Phase 2 consultation is the fact that 60% of those responding to a survey felt that the engagement process was not fit for purpose. And that is only from those who did participate. Many more were unable to effectively access or consider the changes being proposed because of the poor quality of materials made available.

It is all the more important, now, to force a deferment of the Code implementation to allow these disturbing issues to be resolved and ensure that proper consultation occurs on the sweeping changes to planning rules being slipped through under the Code.
The Planning Department’s sham of consultation and ‘engagement’ has effectively excluded the public from meaningful participation in these changes. This must not continue.

If you want the community’s voice to be heard, I urge you to write to, or email members of the two Parliamentary Committees who will be examining the Code and considering the Protect our Heritage petition. Please ask them to heed the views of the public on the deficiencies of the draft Code and the mishandling of public consultation around it. You can find contact details for the members of the two Committees here.

Thank you again for your support. Now is the time to escalate our efforts to force a review of the Code by political lobbying and through Parliamentary processes.

With Best Regards
Warren Jones AO
INSIST THAT THE PUBLIC’S VOICE IS HEEDED

Write to your local MP and demand that the Planning & Design Code is deferred and a genuine public consultation is undertaken on the changes it proposes.

Download a list of State MP contacts

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment. GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622 Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au
www.protectourheritage.org.au Facebook: protectourheritageSA

17 June 2020

The draft Planning and Design Code was released in a parlous and incomplete state in October last year. Since then the public at large, along with community groups, has been offered a spurious Consultation process based on an illusory opportunity to comment on the Code and to receive feedback.

All evidence to date indicates that, contrary to the dictates of the statutory Community Engagement Charter, the public has been studiously ignored in the formulation of new planning policy for the State. Not so the favoured beneficiaries of the Code, the property, building, construction and development industries, which have been privy to, and deeply involved in the development, structure and content of the Code.

The stage was set for pivotal role of the industry lobby in the new planning system in a letter from the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA), on 7 October 2016, to the then Planning Minister John Rau. The letter outlined some of the UDIA’s requirements for a revised status of heritage items under the new system. These included the elimination of Contributory Items, restricted criteria for heritage listing, weakened demolition protections, neglect of character streetscapes and the elimination of accreditation requirements for property assessment ‘experts’.

The role of industry has been orchestrated further through the Minister’s Liaison Group, a peak body providing advice on the Code to Planning Minister Knoll. The membership comprises representatives of DPTI, the State Planning Commission (SPC) and the Local Government Association, along with the key industry beneficiaries of the planning reforms. They include: the UDIA, the Property Council, the Housing institute of Australia and the Master Builders Association, along with developers Hot Property Group and Metricon and investment bankers Greenhill. No hint of involvement from heritage, environment or community groups.

The UDIA has been a key player in this process as indicated by this directive statement in its letter to the Minister on 18th December 2019:
‘….ongoing dialogue between the SPC, DPTI, the Minister and the UDIA will provide the clearest and most direct pathway to addressing issues with the rollout of a new planning system…’

In addition the UDIA promoted, or was invited to contribute, the following input into the Code and its implementation:

  • Assistance in the wording of provisions and their time frames, and with land division processes and the avoidance of ‘onerous’ documentation.
  • The ‘expeditious’ processing of development.
  • Advice on ‘key areas of concern’ relating to referrals for consideration by the SPC.
  • The advanced availability of the e-planning system for testing by industry, to expedite the selection and assessment of potential development sites.
  • Making sure that infill development ‘is easier’, by testing case studies.
  • Provision of feedback by Government to industry bodies on private sector submissions inhe formulation of the Code.
  • The removal of Contributory Items from the Code.
  • The revision of the ‘open space’ definition to include verandahs and alfresco areas.
  • The reduction of ‘soft landscaping’ requirements.
  • The restriction of public notification of development applications.
  • A reduction in referral ‘triggers’ to Agencies such as the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) and the Environment, Resources and Development Committee (ERDC).

Another notable example of the close relationship between industry and key Government planning authorities and the Minister was a Study Tour to London, Manchester and Glasgow brokered and organized by the UDIA. The Tour Group, who spent eight days travelling, meeting, dining and sightseeing together in April 2019, comprised the Planning Minister, the Chair of the SPC, senior DPTI officials and a cross section of industry representatives.

It is not hard to envisage the relationships forged and deals made during this little junket. Once again, there was a notable absence of advocates for the environment, heritage and the community.

Given the close relationship between the industry bodies and the Government and its planning agencies, it is easy to understand the bias in the Planning and Design Code towards the developers at the expense of community concerns about the future of our built and natural environment.

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.

Phone: 0419 852 622

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au

facebook.com/protectourheritageSA/

Press release Who is running the planning agenda- POHA news release 17June2020

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