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Local Government seeks planning reforms

18 February 2004 (amended: 18 February 2004)

Local Government is developing its own agenda for reform of SA's planning system.

SA's Local Government Association has developed a framework for reform in liaison with Councils and will issue a final draft for Councils and other stakeholders to consider next week.

LGA President Councillor John Legoe said Councils were concerned to improve the effectiveness of the planning system but believed that while the Government talked about community input to planning rules, most of its proposed reforms were at the decision-making end of the system.

In relation to the dispute regarding the Holdfast Shores project Councillor Legoe said that because it had been a "major project" under the Act, it had not gone through the normal planning process. "However the last thing South Australia needs is to have people lying in front of bulldozers because the planning system has failed to take community views into account," he said.

"The fact that we haven't seen direct community action in the planning system for many years is a positive which we should be seeking to affirm." "Community engagement in the formation of planning rules forms the centrepiece of our draft framework," he said.

Cr Legoe said that if communities, developers and Government all had much greater confidence in the planning rules then Council Members would be happy delegating more decisions to officers - one of the Government's reform objectives.

He said many people seemed unaware that 95% of planning decisions were already delegated to professional planners. "It's not as though Council Members are opposed to delegating decisions - they already do it with the vast majority of development applications."

"As long as planning rules were not widely owned, communities will want their elected members involved."

Cr Legoe said that there was often more myth than fact in planning reform discussions. "Councils want to see a more effective planning system because we know the problems intimately."

He said Councils were always the 'meat in the sandwich' having to work under someone else's Act and often criticised by both developers and communities.

Cr Legoe said the LGA's draft framework "A Better Direction" had been in preparation since October and the LGA had recently commissioned several consultancies to support it.

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