City wins changes to planning bill

Based on my meetings with the Minister and the work of City planning staff, the Government made last minute changes to provide balance to a Bill that would have significantly weakened local planning controls across NSW.

I was very concerned about the Government's proposed changes to how development control plans could be used when councils assessed a development application.

The changes would have seriously compromised the City's significant heritage areas, the way we manage late night trading venues and how we coordinate development and infrastructure in urban renewal areas.

The Minister acknowledged our concerns and worked with me to restore some balance into that would enable the City and other councils to protect amenity, heritage and ensure good design when assessing a DA.

The City is doing its bit to provide the much needed sustainable and well-designed housing Sydney needs. This week the Department of Planning and Infrastructure's annual report showed the City approved the most dwellings of any Sydney council in 2011-12.

However, development must not come at the cost of bad design and poor amenity. Our new planning controls seek design excellence and require competitive design processes for major development. We also refer major proposals to our independent Design Advisory Panel comprising some of Sydney's best designers.

The City was awarded a commendation by the Planning Institute of Australia (NSW) this week for the planning of Harold Park. Harold Park, with its dedication of 35% public open space, community facilities, affordable housing, conservation of the Tram Sheds and high sustainability targets, was a major planning success for the City and one which we fought to keep out of State Government hands. The Institute noted the "ability of empowered, intelligent local government."

Major changes to the NSW planning system will be revealed in the coming months through the Government's White Paper for the Planning System Review.

This Government will need to hear from the community about how the new planning system will affect you to ensure we get an open and transparent planning system that delivers the sustainable development Sydney needs.

I encourage you to stay involved and make a submission when the White Paper is released.

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