Minister reneges on innovative approach to planning

We are incredibly disappointed this month to see Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts scrapping some key planning reforms that aimed to create more resilient and better designed communities in NSW.

Planning Minister Anthony Roberts scrapped a policy directive from his predecessor two weeks after it came into effect, Image credit: Dominic Lorrimer for Sydney Morning Herald

In late March, Minister Roberts revoked the planning principles introduced by former Planning Minister, Rob Stokes. The planning principles were to introduce a new principles-based approach to planning in NSW focused on nine key areas – including diverse and affordable housing. 

Shelter supported this holistic and long-term approach to planning, and we were especially keen to see a greater focus on resilience and housing affordability and quality in future planning.

These decisions are especially concerning given the weather events that NSW has suffered in the last two years. Nonetheless, the Minister citied a focus on housing affordability as the reason for the repeal. We eagerly await Minister Roberts’ plans on addressing NSW’s housing affordability crisis housing and urge him to move quickly on this issue given his public commitment.

Following this, in early April Minister Roberts also announced his decision to scrap the much-anticipated Design and Place SEPP (DP SEPP). The DP SEPP was an opportunity to raise the standard of development in NSW by facilitating better design, more resilience, and better neighbourhoods. Shelter has made several submissions on the DP SEPP, most recently in support of the changes.

The announcement – made during a lunch hosted by developer lobby group Urban Taskforce – cited the potential impact of the DP SEPP on housing affordability. The decision has been widely condemned by planners and architects. The Fifth Estate provides a good – albeit scathing – summary of responses to the decision. We are in agreeance with our friends at the Committee for Sydney, Australian Institute of Architects, the Planning Institute of Australia, SGS Economics and Planning, and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects. We are concerned that lower income people will be the most likely to lose out from the decision, as they will be the ones to bear the brunt of poorer quality housing.