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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

8 June 2020

The Department of Planning, transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) is in considerable disarray. Some of its woes have been exposed in three recent articles in In Daily, but the catalogue of dysfunction and confusion is extensive.

And all this is at a time when it is charged with developing, implementing and maintaining an untried, complex, new planning system and a novel electronic e- planning platform that is unique in Australia.

The Department has lost several key personnel this year, and staff morale is low. The pressures of constructing a 62,000 page Planning and Design Code and associated documents, followed by the intensive activity involved in trying to conduct a consultation exercise, and then being faced with the attempted correction of the myriad omissions and errors in the Code, must have taken a heavy toll.

On top of this, a recent appointment to the key Planning Reform Officer post has been dogged by controversy. The incumbent, domiciled in Sydney, was employed on a fly- in, fly-out basis, but following an industrial dispute he has been working from his Sydney base. This is an extraordinary arrangement, given the complexity and strategic importance of the e-planning system, which is central to the planned implementation and functioning of the Code.

Not only is the proposed new planning system in disarray, it is at serious risk of failure. Through its inept handling of this attempt at reform, the Government has betrayed the trust of the community, and it has alienated the goodwill and support of local Councils and key stakeholders.

Certainly, some aspects of our planning system need to be changed and streamlined, but in its heavy-handed attempt at wholesale ill-considered reform, the ‘baby has been thrown out with the bathwater’ and we may suffer the consequences for generations to come.

It is hard to predict what lies ahead. The implementation of Phase 2 (rural) and Phase 3 (urban) has been deferred repeatedly. This has been in response to the ill-formed state of the Code and of its vital implementation tool, the electronic e- planning system.
There is now considerable pressure on the Planning Minister to further defer the Code for 12 months. This has come from the public in the form of a 14,000 signature Petition to Parliament, and also from opposition politicians, community organisations, and, even, some sections of industry.

The Code must now be subjected to a comprehensive review, restructure and genuine consultation, before it is implemented as an new, more sensible and acceptable planning reform.

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/

POHA News release- Catalogue of confusion 8 June 2020

26 May 2020

The draft Planning and Design Code was released prematurely on October 1 last year. It was, and still is, incomplete, inaccurate and confusing. It was, and still is, inaccessible in both hard copy and electronic versions. It is still difficult to determine what are policy changes and what are mistakes.

The so-called ‘consultation’ on the Code comprised lectures, tightly controlled public forums and confusing ‘briefings’, which were inscrutable to participants and defied explanation by presenters.

The community and stakeholders, including Councils, have spent many thousands of hours trying to decipher the Code and constructing feedback to Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI). Their efforts have been largely ignored. The ‘What we Have Heard’ Report on Phase 2 (rural Code) is incomplete and sanitised. The bureaucrats may have ‘heard’ but they haven’t ‘listened’.

We are told that a revised Phase 2 Code will be made publicly available before its implementation commences on July 1. This seems highly unlikely. It is clear that no lessons have been learnt in correcting errors and omissions as the Code process has moved through the three Phases. This bodes ill for the accuracy and utility of the next version of the massive Phase 3 (metropolitan Code) document and its implementation, supposedly in September.

The report on the Phase 2 consultations reduces 180 individual submissions to barely three and a half pages of summary, omitting the numerous complaints about the poor quality of the materials for consultation and the lack of time to consider and respond to them. While rural councils and their communities had just two months to respond to the cumbersome, confusing and error- ridden draft Code, the Department took four months to produce this cursory, self-serving and highly selective response. Many of the issues raises by rural Councils and the Local Government Association have been disregarded or ignored. This is emblematic of the failed consultation and engagement process undertaken by DPTI and the State Planning Commission.

This whole unsatisfactory process smacks of a ‘planning on the run’ approach which has dogged the development of the code and its promulgation right from the beginning.
The ‘Consultation’ has been an exercise in arrogance, futility and expense……..officially $135,000, but we suspect much more.

The cost, in the loss of community trust and confidence in the new planning system, is inestimable.

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/protectourheritageSA

Mythical consultation POHA news release 25May2020

15th May 2020

Dear Supporter/Concerned Member of the Community

I am writing to update you on the Protect our Heritage Petition and the campaign to defer the implementation of Phase 2 (rural) and Phase 3 (metropolitan) of the Planning and Design Code for at least a year. This will be necessary because of the need to re-assess and repair the Code and its e-planning implementation tool, particularly in the wake of the disruption caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Petition of 14,000 signatures calls on the Parliament to defer and review the implementation of the Code and its governance, pending a genuine public consultation process and a re-appraisal of its aims and content.

This Petition is the second largest ever presented to Parliament. It was tabled in the Upper House by the Hon Mark Parnell MLC on 30th April and was introduced by him in the House on 13th May, and referred to the Legislative Review Committee (Hansard transcript Hansard Mark Parnell- Legislative Council 13 May 2020).

Mark Parnell, as sponsor of the Petition, will address the Legislative Review Committee on Wednesday 3rd June. Other submissions, both in person and in writing, will be received for the following meeting on Wednesday 17th June and for subsequent meetings.

The Committee will then report to the Legislative Council and to the Planning Minister Stephan Knoll. Subsequently the Minister must address the Parliament and report what action, if any, he will take, in response to the Petition. If no action is to be taken, he must give his reasons for such a decision. The Minister must then cause a copy of his response to be tabled in the Parliament within six sitting days.

In the meantime, there is another level of Parliamentary scrutiny of the Code through the Environment, Resources and Development Committee (ERDC) (Details Appended). The Phase 2 (rural) Code will be referred to the ERDC by the Minister within 28 days of its (currently) proposed implementation date of 1st July. Similarly, the Phase 3 Code will be referred within 28 days of its planned implementation in late September.

Implementation of the Code is conditional on consideration by the ERDC. The Committee can advise the Minister if it accepts the Code, recommends changes or rejects it. The Minister can use his ‘discretion’ in responding to this advice, but documentation of rejection must be tabled in Parliament.

So, there are two avenues for expression of support for the Petition and the need to defer and repair the Planning and Design Code. I urge you to write to, or email these two Committees, expressing your concerns, and, if you wish, seeking to present your views in person. You might also like to write individually to the members of the two Committees.

I have appended all the relevant details of the Committees.

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

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 2020 Adelaide SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au

facebook/protectourheritageSA

Appendix A Legislative Review Committee membership and Appendix B Environment, Resources and Development Committee membership – Parliamentary Committee Membership

12 May 2020

The Government’s proposed new Planning and Design Code staggers from pillar to post. The latest deferred implementation dates are July for Phase 2 (rural) and September for Phase 3 (metropolitan).

In the meantime, property purchasers/owners and developers are deploying devious strategies in an attempt to benefit from the provisions of the Code, which weaken demolition protections and encourage crowded suburban infill and high rise.

Anticipating the Code
Many properties in Adelaide, some vacant, decayed or derelict, have been purchased for development, but are languishing in limbo in anticipation of favourable outcomes under the new planning system. This strategy has left a semi-permanent legacy of neglected eyesores scattered across Council areas.

Planned neglect
Another strategy is the well-established ‘planned neglect’ trick. A potential developer buys a property, perhaps a local heritage-listed dwelling. Under current regulations the heritage building cannot be demolished unless the cost of restoring it can be shown to be prohibitive.

If the potential returns on the proposed development are substantial, the new owner sits tight and waits for the property to deteriorate, sometimes with a bit of help, to the point where its repair or renovation is financially impractical. Permission will then be granted for demolition and redevelopment.

The domino effect
The third ploy is to create a ‘domino effect’ in a street or small neighbourhood. The developer buys up one of a row or group of older houses or contributory items. An application to demolish and build a two-storey ‘three or four for one’ complex softens up the immediate neighbours, who may then be encouraged or frightened into selling.

The process is then repeated and so it goes on. The developer has acquired a string of properties and the historic character of the area is destroyed.

These manoeuvers are possible and employed under the existing planning regulations. They will become more common with the weakened demolition and development protections, and the abrogation of individual and community rights embodied in the proposed new planning system.

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/protectourheritageSA

10th May 2020

Dear Supporter,

I am writing to inform you about recent developments with the Protect our Heritage petition of 14,000 signatures which was delivered to Parliament House on 30th April 2020. The petition is the second largest ever presented to the Parliament in terms of the number of signatures.

Two things will now happen, in parallel:

  1. A Legislative Review Committee will be presented with the Petition on 13th May. The Committee will invite the Green’s Mark Parnell MLC (as Sponsor) to speak to the Petition on 3rd June. Other submissions, both in person and in writing, will then be received and considered by the Committee on 17th June and at subsequent meetings. The Committee will then report to the Legislative Council and the Minister. The Minister must then address the Council and report what action he has taken, if any, he will take in response to the Petition. If no action is intended, he must explain the reasons for this decision. The Minister must the table a copy of his response in the Council.
  2. The Petition, which was tabled by Mark Parnell in the Legislative Council (Upper House) last week will be introduced by him and then debated in that House on Wednesday 13th May at around 3.50pm. If you wish you can watch proceedings on line.

Along with other political pressure we hope that this may cause the Premier and the Minister to re-consider their position and further delay the implementation of the Planning and Design Code, so that it can be reviewed, reconstructed and presented to the community for genuine consultation. Thank you for your continuing support. I will keep you informed of future developments.

Kind Regards

Warren Jones (Convenor, Protect our Heritage Alliance)

THE PLANNING AND DESIGN CODE AND E-PLANNING

no clarity – no credibility – no cash…..what next?

It is becoming difficult to see how the Government can contemplate implementing Phases 2 and 3, even on the revised deferred timeline.

An In Daily article (5/5/20) has exposed the chaos in DPTI surrounding the Code and its essential electronic implementation tool, the e-planning system.

The recently appointed State Planning Reform Director, Ray Partridge flies in and out from Sydney with dispensation to circumvent the COVID 19 restrictions. He is currently under Departmental investigation for forcing staff to flaunt social distancing measures, and work in the office rather than at home, because of the panic attending the construction and validation of the e-planning system.

This follows the recent resignations of five members of the IT planning team and of other key DPTI staff.

It is clear that that the Code and its support systems are in chaos. And yet no-one in authority will admit this. A DPTI official has insisted that e-planning was on track with ‘final technical testing underway in partnership with Councils”. This is untrue……apart from a very few rural areas (Phase 2), the majority of Councils are yet to have briefings on the program, let alone being involved in ‘technical testing’.

Planning Minister Knoll consistently denies any problems, and is afflicted with the ‘nothing to see here’ syndrome. He continues to assert that the Code will be implemented as currently planned. It is hard to see how this can happen.

Even if and when the e-planning platform is functional, the policy components of the Code are in no fit state to be implemented; they are still incomplete, inadequate and confusing.

Another confounding unknown is funding. DPTI has no budgetary provision for the Code beyond June 30th, and, indeed, the exigencies of post- COVID 19 and its consequences for the economy and the functioning of State and Local Governments will be considerable.
7 May 2020

It is unlikely that the Government’s newfound Planning Emergency Powers to fast track development will overcome these problems.
If the Code goes ahead in its current state, the confusion and uncertainty it will unleash will be disastrous for Councils, the community and the building and development industries.

Unfortunately, the political imperative is to rush out the Code in the forlorn hope that the backlash it will create will have abated before the 2020 Election.

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/

The City of Unley is reviewing and updating its current Tree Strategy. As a result a Draft Tree Strategy document has written and been released for public consultation.

The Draft Tree Strategy sets out proposed direction and priorities in implementing community greening goals and to ensure the City of Unley remains leafy for future generations. It considers current and emerging issues, opportunities and trends in our community relating to trees.

We would encourage members to download this document and make comment on the City of Unley “Have your Say” website.

Feedback regarding the Draft Tree Strategy must be received until 11 May 2020.

Tree strategy.png

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