Amended Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 2017
This Act is an amendment of the original Act of 1979, which laid down the process for assessment of all developments in NSW. It is an improvement over the government’s previous attempt to introduce a new Act, which was amended by the Upper House so drastically in 2014 that the Government did not proceed with it.
There were over 100 amendments proposed to this new revised Act, and none were accepted. The 17 changes proposed by the Better Planning Network did not succeed. For example, there is no mention of Climate Change in the Amended Act. The BPN comments:
On a more positive note, the Bill retains the definition of Ecologically Sustainable Development which we had originally fought for and introduces an important new Object around the design quality of the built environment. The Bill also requires planning authorities to prepare Community Participation Plans and allows court challenges of these Plans to proceed within 3 months of the Plan being published.
The BPN proposes an information session in the New Year, which I will attend.
Comment in the press has been varied. The Herald reports the Government Architect, Peter Poulet, as welcoming the belated goals of good design, the promotion of built and cultural heritage, and the proper construction and maintenance of buildings. The Herald also reminds us of the concern of the Independent Commission Against Corruption at giving the planning secretary power to approve developments where different government agencies held conflicting views. It also notes the change from the Planning Assessment Commission to the Independent Planning Commission is mostly in the name. The Environmental Defenders Office notes that if a public hearing is held, there is no possibility of an appeal, which is a serious deficiency.
Response to Grenfell Tower fire
The Federal Government is still struggling with a response to the London fire that claimed so many lives. Meanwhile the State Government has promised to legislate to control the use of unsafe cladding, the cause of the Grenfell disaster. The Fair Trading Minister, Matt Kean, says about 1,000 buildings in NSW have unsafe cladding. The proposed legislation will identify unsafe materials, require their removal and ban their use, the Minister claims (SMH July 28). Private Certifiers who approved such materials would lose their licence.