Friday, June 21, 2024

Tasmania pledges to take politics out of planning

Tasmanian Premier and Acting Minister for Planning, Jeremy Rockliff says the Government is “taking the politics out of planning decisions” in a bid to improve the certainty, transparency and the effectiveness of planning across the state.

Mr Rockliff said the Government was set to introduce new legislation to allow for some planning decisions to be made by independent expert Development Assessment Panels (DAP). 

“We will take the politics out of planning by ensuring that decisions are driven by the rules and not the vested interests or personal biases of individual councillors,” the Premier said. 

“There’s too many examples where critical land, housing or other projects are being stopped or delayed by ideologically motived, party-aligned councillors, and this is not good for Tasmania. 

“Let me be clear, this legislation will not change Tasmania’s planning rules. Councils will still undertake assessments and the community will still have their say, as they always have. 

“This is simply about providing a second decision-making option, where the politics is removed from planning.”

He said the initiative will help the Government to deliver its target of 10,000 homes by 2030, and meet Tasmania’s affordable housing needs, by reducing unnecessary delays.

“In meeting this target, we committed to taking advice from industry, our community housing provider partners, Homes Tasmania and those engaging in our planning system to deliver the housing Tasmania needs. We heard loud and clear they need certainty in a pathway.”

Under the proposal, proponents would be able to opt-in and choose whether a council or a panel makes the final decision on their project. Similarly, councils would also have the option of referring the final decision, enabling them to better advocate for their community. Panels would be determined by the independent Tasmanian Planning Commission.

“The type and scale of projects eligible for the new process will be determined as we develop legislation, but are expected to include housing, social housing, large-scale developments and other proposals of community interest. A value floor will also be implemented for non-prescribed project, including projects valued over $10 million in urban centres and over $5 million in rural areas,” the Premier said.

“We are planning for Tasmania’s future, and we are planning for growth, this legislation will be the next step in our long-term plan to achieve this.

“When we came to Government in 2014, we said we would deliver a single-state-wide planning scheme, and we have. There are now 21 councils on board, providing councils, planners, developers and the community with greater certainty, consistency and transparency.

“We have introduced the Major Projects process for large scale, complex infrastructure, energy and industry projects, which was key to delivering the critically important new Bridgewater Bridge in the south and is being used to assess the NE Wind Farm project in the north.

“Now, we are taking the next sensible step by introducing independent expert panels that will further improve the effectiveness of planning across Tasmania.”

The Premier said the new legislation will give the community and developers the confidence that they need in our planning system, so they can invest with certainty.

“And we can continue to meet the needs of our growing population,” he said.

Draft legislation will be out for consultation later this year, with a view to being introduced to Parliament at the start of 2024.

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