Councils Seek Changes to Bill

Southern Tasmanian Councils have joined forces to seek changes to the Nation Building and Jobs Plan Facilitation Bill currently before State Parliament.

Chair of the Southern Tasmanian Councils Association (STCA), Ald Rob Valentine, said the Councils note the bill’s key objectives but were concerned that it had the potential to create future problems for homeowners, Councils and the State Government itself.

“We understand the Government’s desire for speed but we think there is a better way for the State Government to achieve its objectives,” Alderman Valentine said.

“Rather than stepping completely outside the current Planning System which is underpinned by strategic considerations, we propose that the State work more closely with Local Government to plan projects.”

“In this way the State Government will have access to professional planning expertise in Councils and at the same time avoid long-term detrimental planning impacts,” he said.

An STCA report prepared for Government and the Legislative Council says planning issues that might arise if the bill is passed without agreement on a more cooperative model include:

  • Possible approval of projects currently prohibited in certain areas;
  • Inappropriate developments next to someone’s home without any right of the home owner to object;
  • Significant increase in traffic in a residential area resulting from new or bigger developments;
  • Social housing being placed in inappropriate areas such as commercial or industrial areas;
  • Building over vital services like sewer mains because of a lack of local knowledge and council involvement;
  • Insufficient water pressure to meet the needs of a new development;
  • Damage to council infrastructure with no way to redress the damage.

The report proposes that Councils work with the State Government to detail criteria for assessing all projects under the bill to ensure that inappropriate developments are not approved.

The criteria would include such issues as that projects have access to physical infrastructure like water and sewerage, not be contrary to State Policies or Council Planning Schemes and policies and take any natural risks or hazards as well as public health issues into consideration.

The STCA report also proposes the establishment of a Local Government Application Advisory Team comprising qualified and experienced Council planning professionals to help Government plan housing and school projects.

For further comment and interviews, please contact Ald Rob Valentine, on 0418 127 323