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NSW to slash red tape in major planning reform

Is Sydney under construction or being held up by red tape?

Onerous and lengthy planning and approval processes in New South Wales will be significantly reduced as part of a package of reforms into construction and development which is aimed at “supercharging the economy”.

Announced this week by New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes, the reforms are aimed at giving greater certainty to investors and aims to streamline the approvals process, which the government says will create thousands of jobs and improve the way people live and work across the state.

Reforms will include slashing assessment timeframes, reducing red tape and fast-tracking projects in high-growth areas. The government said state heritage areas will be better protected under the reformed processes, with well-designed projects rewarded with expedited delivery. New business hubs will be created across the state, allowing people to work closer to their homes. E-planning protocols will also be developed for councils in metropolitan areas.

Premier Berejiklian said the current system doesn’t give certainty to investors, with proposals taking years to determine and too many layers of bureaucracy getting in the way.

“Under the new reforms, we will deliver the simplest and most effective planning system in Australia that creates thousands of jobs and improves the way people live and work, right across the State.”

The Star’s redevelopment plan was rejected by the NSW Independent Planning Commission last week.

The reforms are timely and come in the wake of last week’s announcement by the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) to reject a redevelopment proposal by The Star Entertainment Group which included a proposed luxury hotel to be managed under the Ritz-Carlton brand.

When questioned by HM as to whether the reforms undermined the integrity of the IPC, a government spokesperson said the reforms would have no impact or influence on past decisions.

“The IPC is an independent body and its decisions are not subject to the direction or control of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment or the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces.

“NSW Productivity Commissioner Peter Achterstraat is currently reviewing the IPC, with a report to be delivered to Minister Stokes in mid-December. The review will provide recommendations to ensure that decisions on major planning proposals are robust, transparent and timely.”

L-R Dean Long, AAoA and Michael Johnson, TAA

Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO, Michael Johnson, said governments should constantly be looking at ways to remove red tape and streamline processes.

“The decision by the Independent Planning Commission to reject the $500 million Ritz-Carlton project provides clear evidence of the need to look closely at red tape reform.

“This iconic project represented a substantial long-term investment in Sydney’s accommodation sector which would have helped maintain New South Wales’ position as a premier destination, while supporting numerous jobs for local workers in the short and long-term.”

Accommodation Association of Australia CEO, Dean Long, welcomed the announcement, labelling it as great news for the accommodation sector.

“The recent rejection of the Star proposal for the Ritz Carlton development demonstrated that the planning system in NSW is flawed. The Star had spent four and a half years in planning, making numerous concessions and a huge investment, to only have the IPC reject what would have been a game changer for the Darling Harbour precinct.

“We particularly welcome the announcement that e-planning will be mandatory for metro councils and would like that extended to regional councils. Delays in planning result in escalating costs, diminish confidence in the economy and most importantly impact employment.”

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