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Community calls for local accountability in planning and development system

27 April 2004 (amended: 27 April 2004)

An independent survey conducted for the State's Councils through the Local Government Association (LGA) has identified local accountability as a major community prerequisite in the development approval process.

The finding suggests significant community questions with parts of the State's proposals to overhaul planning and development approvals, with more than 70 percent of respondents in favour of Councils being intimately involved in the development approval process.

The State Government's Sustainable Development Bill proposes, among other changes, that all Council development panels comprise a majority of "independent experts" rather than Council Members or their planning staff.

Association President Councillor John Legoe said the survey forms part of a number of LGA research activities to inform the debate and contribute to improvements to SA's planning and development system.

The survey, conducted last month by McGregor Tan Research, for the first time provides regional and metropolitan views on issues associated to reforms proposed to the planning and development system.

Some 72 percent believe elected Council Members should make decisions on development applications and/or zoning rules, while 65 percent think independent experts should only have an advisory role - or no role at all. A total of 26 percent favour independent experts making decisions, while nine percent are undecided.

In addition, 90 percent of respondents support community input into setting development rules, with almost 60 percent feeling they should have greater input, 30 percent believing the current level should not be reduced and the remainder either did not know or wanted less input.

"The message from the community is clear," said Cr Legoe. "They support more work to get the rules right, but would have concerns about giving an approval role to independent 'experts' who are not accountable to the community."

Cr Legoe said the findings had been sent to all Councils and to the Minister for Planning (Trish White) to assist in the current reform debate.

"The LGA supports the need for reform to planning and development and we want to ensure it is based on facts and aimed at ensuring greater community confidence in the system.

Other LGA research under way includes:

  • Analysis of interstate planning systems and legislation
  • Analysis of problem or slower applications in the existing system
  • Identifying problems in the processing of Plan (zoning) Amendment Reports by State and Local Government
  • Reviewing issues with regional development assessment (State proposals are expected to include a regional approach to some issues)
  • Collation of statistical information on Council and State Government performance in planning
  • Liaison with key stakeholder peak bodies representing developers, professionals and community
  • Analysis of complaints
  • Identifying costs of managing the system

The McGregor Tan survey took the form of telephone interviews with a sample of 514 respondents from the general public, of whom 412 were from metropolitan Adelaide and a further 102 from regional SA.

The full report can be viewed on the LGA's website [Click here to go to Planning & Development webpage]

The following Fact Sheets provide background information to the curent reform debate and to the survey results:

Planning & Development Survey - Fact Sheet 1 - 31 kb

Planning & Development Survey - Fact Sheet 2 - 33 kb

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