The NSW government intends to completely overhaul the current planning laws. Although the rationale for the overhaul is to give the community a greater say at the strategic planning stage rather than the opportunity to object to particular developments, the draft legislation gives the Minister very wide powers to overrule those local plans without community consultation. In the name of expediting the planning process, the community’s right to challenge plans has been greatly restricted. Community concerns have been evident in letters to the editor and media articles critical of the planned changes.
According to the Law Society of NSW’s submission:
There appears to be a disconnect between the stated intention to continue the open standing provisions of the current Act as set out in the [Government’s] White paper and the terms of the draft legislation.
This disconnect is also apparent in such fundamental areas as community participation, strategic plans and State significant development approvals where significant rights of review have been removed by provisions of the Planning Bill.
Given the recent findings of the ICAC Inquiries and exposure of corruption in local council planning processes, the Rule of Law Institute is very concerned about the excessive discretion given to the Minister and the lack of community review rights.