Baird government planning reform welcomed by Newcastle Council

Planning Minister Rob Stokes

Planning Minister Rob Stokes

NEWCASTLE council has voiced its support for the Baird government’s proposed changes to planning laws.

On Monday, NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes announced changes to the planning system that would mean councils would determine fewer development applications, but would be responsible for more regularly and clearly devising planning controls for local areas.

The new laws will see the Planning Assessment Commission have its role reduced and give the minister the power to make councils establish independent local planning panels to review controversial developments, similar to the existing Joint Regional Planning Panel.  

The government says the proposals will simplify planning laws, and Mr Stokes has marketed them as a solution to the state’s growing housing shortage.

“These planning reforms build on our impressive results over the past five years by making it easier to build new homes,” Mr Stokes said.

The reforms have been dismissed by Labor as not doing enough to tackle rising house prices in Sydney and regional areas.

The shadow minister for planning, Michael Daley, likened the reform to “housekeeping” and said it was “disingenuous” to say they would ease housing affordability.

“There is nothing in these provisions that will ease the housing affordability crisis.” he said.

The NSW Property Council also said the reforms didn’t go far enough.

The council’s executive director, Jane Fitzgerald, said that while she welcomed the change, the announcements amounted to “nip and tuck” when the planning system needed “radical surgery”.

But Newcastle City Council has backed the plan, saying it “welcomes any proposals to simplify planning laws and produce higher quality design outcomes for our local government area”.

“We broadly support increased community consultation in the planning process, clearer provisions and stronger enforcement measures,” a council spokeswoman said.

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