NSW Govt to “speed up planning processes and development applications”

The NSW government will speed up planning processes and development applications during the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to forge ahead with construction of major projects, generate jobs and push the economy into the “roaring 2020s”.

By Megan Gorrey

First published at The Sydney Morning Herald – Friday 3 April 2020. See: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/jobs-not-homes-nsw-to-push-ahead-with-planning-approvals-20200403-p54grm.html

Planning Minister Rob Stokes, who has vowed to “clear the decks” of proposals stuck in the tangled planning system, said the government would fast-track significant developments, rezonings and development applications, with the potential for more ministerial approvals.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes says the focus must be on jobs, not homes, during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The COVID-19 response is quite explicitly focused on what we can’t do,” Mr Stokes said on Friday. “In planning, our duty during the pandemic is to think about what we can do.

“We can cut red tape to provide businesses with flexibility, we can override normal processes to keep people in jobs and the economy moving and we can process so many projects and proposals that have been stuck in the system for too long.”

Rally of angry farmers opposed to the development of a high pressure gas pipeline from Narrabri to wellington nsw by Eastern Star Gas .
‘Open and transparent’: NSW government presses on with project approvals

The Berejiklian government’s “planning system acceleration program” will also help councils and regional planning panels to quickly process major development applications, and aim to clear the backlog of cases in the Land and Environment Court by appointing additional acting commissioners.

Mr Stokes pointed to the “enormous economic growth and recovery, and also social and cultural development” of the 1920s after the Spanish Flu pandemic, saying the scheme was aimed at pushing NSW past the “economic calamity” of the COVID-19 crisis to “get to the roaring 2020s, faster”.

“This is an incredible opportunity, and we need to think of it in those ways, to get through those projects that are awaiting consideration, or part-way through consideration, so that we have a huge pipeline of projects ready to power us into recovery,” he said.

About $70 million will fund infrastructure including roads, drainage and public parks in the fast-growing parts of Sydney’ north-west to prepare for the construction of thousands of new residences.

But Mr Stokes said the focus for the next few months should be forging ahead with plans for employment precincts and creating jobs, not on building houses and apartments.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes.
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To that end he said the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment had approved 142 major projects, creating about 4500 jobs, and injecting $4 billion into the economy, since January.

The government has changed planning rules to allow construction sites to operate on weekends and public holidays to help the sector cope with the impact of physical distancing requirements.

There have also been tweaks to planning rules to enable food trucks to set up more easily, and to ensure supermarkets and pharmacies can operate throughout the pandemic.

Mr Stokes has asked the Independent Planning Commission to alter how it holds public hearings to ensure they remain “open and transparent” amid calls for approvals of major projects to be halted during the virus outbreak.

Labor’s planning spokesman Adam Searle said the measures to provide infrastructure, support to councils and boost planning efficiency were “important to ensure continued economic activity at this difficult time”.

“However, ‘fast tracking’ must not be code for simply faster approvals without proper evaluation or scrutiny,” Mr Searle said.

Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest said dozens of projects – some “shovel-ready” and others delayed because they didn’t “sit in neatly” with strategic planning documents” – were stuck in the planning system.

“We now have a pathway to drive these projects forward,” he said.

Property Council NSW executive director Jane Fitzgerald said the scheme would “not only support those assessing projects right now but will also help keep thousands of people working in the property industry”.

Megan Gorrey is the Urban Affairs reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

First published at The Sydney Morning Herald – Friday 3 April 2020. See: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/jobs-not-homes-nsw-to-push-ahead-with-planning-approvals-20200403-p54grm.html

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8 thoughts on “NSW Govt to “speed up planning processes and development applications”

  1. Could someone with the knowledge of Government Planning procedure throw some light on how this could play out in reference to our Gordon street fiasco
    Mr Stokes has asked the Independent Planning Commission to alter how it holds public hearings to ensure they remain “open and transparent” amid calls for approvals of major projects to be halted during the virus outbreak.
    However, ‘fast tracking’ must not be code for simply faster approvals without proper evaluation or scrutiny,” Mr Searle said.

  2. Does anyone else get the impression that the coronavirus has opened up a myriad of opportunities for LNP governments to ram home long-held ideological goals of tightening up civil order, while at the same time providing them with an excuse to drive peoples’ democratic rights to question government actions asunder?

    Prior to the coronavirus mutating, we witnessed the crackdown on whistleblowers exposing dodgy government secrets. Then we saw journalists and news organisations being intimidated after reporting on alleged wartime atrocities. All with LNP government(s) blessing.

    What better time than this to avoid close public scrutiny of DA’s and fast-track the backlog cluttering the minister’s desk while people are confined to their homes and denied their democratic right to legally congregate in groups to protest?

  3. At the slightest hint of actions by Coffs Harbour Council to advance their Gordon Street plans in the wake of massive opposition, all eyes will surely turn to Gurmesh Singh MP, his predecessor and any, let’s call them, City Fathers or Guardians who oppose the current GM’s actions.

  4. Pingback: Urban Taskforce
  5. Watch out for bulldozers and chain saws to be revved up to the max by this State Government.

    Their beloved surplus is going down the u-bend so in order to try and turn that around it is now a matter of build, build at all costs. Including, of course, that ghastly, largely unnecessary, of dubious morality, monstrosity in Gordon Street so hated by many here locally.

    But of course they could still build, get it going fast and keep many in the building trade busy too. They could speed up the construction of footpaths, kerb and guttering, drainage projects and the repair of many bridges and roads. Now. With government stimulus monies just like in the GFC and the Great Depression.

    And there is a huge amount of that sort of work needed right now.

    But no that would be following what the ALP did so they wont do that. Not in this particular way anyway.

    No they want to go “rip shit and bust” on big projects that will take more time to get going irrespective. Possibly so as to look after their donor mates too? Just a thought.

  6. This new State law for Rob Stokes (April 2020), allows as well as, building developments to be fast-tracked to approvals, also accelerates coal mining, gravel/quarries, CSG extractive industries, other mining resources and even accelerate the State Government dam building projects for NSW and elsewhere is unknown (as I wrote this post). The Bucketts Way NSW Tourist Drive 2, is under attack from mining companies, quarries and State Government Departments of many, that already destroy vast areas of NSW and Australia. Now the State owned Hunter Water in their “proposed dam/s” to drown out a section of this valley impacting properties along Ebwsworth Road, Glen Martin, Clarencetown, Limeburners Creek, Allworth. even north into Booral. If approved this dam will destroy all the headwaters of creeks in this area that flow under The Bucketts Way and will stop ALL these creeks flow from our mountains (north side of The Bucketts Way) and stop the flow into Limeburners Creek (the Creek) a Protection Zone to the Karuah River and Marine Park of Port Stephens. This ‘proposed dam’ is also being earmarked as a dirty water holding dam (my words) to include recycled water (sewerage water), whether all their dam walls have treatment plants or not this would run this water through peoples properties onflowing to Limeburners Creek/Karuah River/Marine Park. The other ‘proposed dam’, they are seeking to destroy the last remaining Chichester River in the natural and the Chichester valley flooding out old growth Forests/bushland, wildlife habitat, aquatic life and 35+ homes/properties and businesses including 2 Churches and Cemeteries. It is the same State Government Departments Planning, EPA, DPI, PAC and mostly Land & Environment Court etc. that also approve mining companies to destroy natural water sources around NSW. They have allowed coal mining companies to mine under the Sydney Water’s supply destroying Cataract River, the Waratah Rivulet, Nepean River, cut off 8km of the Goulburn River Mudgee, destroy the lakes of the Thirlmere Lake system and drain them dry, now giving approval to mine under the Woronora Dam, again Sydney’s drinking water supply. The many people that work in these Departments and Ministers of many should be charged for the’ destruction to the environment and water sources’, while killing wildlife (in infinity numbers) through their approvals. They must STOP destroying natural water sources and bushland areas, through mining & developments; regardless of what the resource is. Water is our first precious resources and must not be handed over again and again by our Government Departments of many. Shame on your ALL! Amanda Albury ICAG Inc. Secretary (M) 0403 645 521

  7. This new State law for Rob Stokes, allows as well as building developments to be fast-tracked to approvals, also accelerates coal mining, gravel/quarries, CSG extractive industries, other mining resources and even accelerate the State Government dam building projects for NSW and elsewhere is unknown (as I wrote this post). The Bucketts Way NSW Tourist Drive 2, is under attack from mining companies, quarries and State Government Departments of many, that already destroy vast areas of NSW and Australia. Now the State owned Hunter Water in their “proposed dam/s” to drown out a section of this valley impacting properties along Ebwsworth Road, Glen Martin, Clarencetown, Limeburners Creek, Allworth. even north into Booral. If approved this dam will destroy all the headwaters of creeks in this area that flow under The Bucketts Way and will stop ALL these creeks flow from our mountains (north side of The Bucketts Way) and stop the flow into Limeburners Creek (the Creek) a Protection Zone to the Karuah River and Marine Park of Port Stephens. This ‘proposed dam’ is also being earmarked as a dirty water holding dam (my words) to include recycled water (sewerage water), whether all their dam walls have treatment plants or not this would run this water through peoples properties onflowing to Limeburners Creek/Karuah River/Marine Park. The other ‘proposed dam’, they are seeking to destroy the last remaining Chichester River in the natural and the Chichester valley flooding out old growth Forests/bushland, wildlife habitat, aquatic life and 35+ homes/properties and businesses including 2 Churches and Cemeteries. It is the same State Government Departments Planning, EPA, DPI, PAC and mostly Land & Environment Court etc. that also approve mining companies to destroy natural water sources around NSW. They have allowed coal mining companies to mine under the Sydney Water’s supply destroying Cataract River, the Waratah Rivulet, Nepean River, cut off 8km of the Goulburn River Mudgee, destroy the lakes of the Thirlmere Lake system and drain them dry, now giving approval to mine under the Woronora Dam, again Sydney’s drinking water supply. The many people that work in these Departments and Ministers of many should be charged for the’ destruction to the environment and water sources’, while killing wildlife (in infinity numbers) through their approvals. They must STOP destroying natural water sources and bushland areas, through mining & developments; regardless of what the resource is. Water is our first precious resources and must not be handed over again and again by our Government Departments of many. Shame on your ALL! Amanda Albury ICAG Inc. Secretary (M) 0403 645 521

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