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Planning – State Planning Provisions

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Tags: Planning

Dr WOODRUFF - As we've just heard from Mr Risby, the statewide state planning provisions review has started. It's in the context that we have local councils that haven't finished the process of going through their own LPSs, and therefore we don't have all the councils into the first period of the five-year statutorily endorsed planning provisions area. But here we are reviewing them. When the Tasmanian Planning Scheme became law in 2015, a process was undertaken by the Planning Commission to run a series of consultations, with hearings in 2016. They made recommendations to the Planning minister, then Peter Gutwein, about what they considered needed to be in the state-wide planning provisions. Peter Gutwein accepted some of them and didn't accept others.

I'll run through the key areas that weren't accepted. They were in relation to local historic heritage code, residential standards, there was no stormwater code, the natural assets code was recommended to be substantially overhauled, the environment management zone had a number of concerns raised about it, and there were issues with the limitations on local variations allowed. These were recommendations made by the independent Planning Commission that weren't accepted or that were modified.

Will you commit to re-overhauling those recommendations and in the first instance committing to using the recommendations of the independent Planning Commission and will they be consulted as part of the statutory review process for the five-year plan? What's their role in adding new recommendations?

Mr FERGUSON - Thank you, Dr Woodruff, for your question. Again, Mr Risby will give the detailed answer, particularly in relation to those latter matters. I can confirm that in all of our dealings we will always place a focus on ensuring that the Tasmanian public get to have their say on matters of proposed and substantial change or even visibility on changes they may not be familiar with.

I hope you've noticed our new website. It's been deliberately redesigned to allow a stronger platform on the one hand understanding of how our planning system works, how our planning reforms are being put in operation but importantly they have 'your say' section which is frankly quite central to each important step that the State Planning Office will be taking matters to the public about, so I hope you noticed that. It's important to me, it's important to the Government, and I know stakeholders want to hear that reaffirmed.

In terms of those SPP matters that you raised, I will ask Mr Risby if you could respond to those and where they fit in the review.

Mr RISBY - Thank you, minister. Yes, certainly. I can't recall the detail around the heritage code matter in particular but the matter around the residential standards, the PD4.1 issue, we've already started a review of the PD4.1 provisions over a year ago. That's feeding into the current SPP review. The stormwater matter was addressed in part through the provision of a clause in the SPPs that enables conditions on the stormwater matters to be specifically added to permits.

The natural assets code matter was essentially resolved by the provision of data around vegetation communities at a statewide level which has informed the overlays on those -

Dr WOODRUFF - Where did that data come from?

Mr RISBY - That was commissioned from Rod Knight who did a statewide mapping of vegetation communities which was then provided to the councils to form the basis of their LPS, so that matter was partly addressed through that work.

The natural assets issue is still a viable matter to examine and I'm conscious that Kingborough is approaching this through their LPS at the moment in a slightly different way and the planning legislation does provide some flexibility for the Commission to look at that matter.

If I go to the broader approach that the SPP review will follow, there's a whole collection of matters that we're starting with and for the first phase that's kicked off it is a scoping exercise so we've gone out to the broad public to seek exactly what matters they think we need to address through this process. It's not constrained to what the Commission may have suggested in the past or what we think is important. We are effectively saying: 'you tell us what you think are the appropriate issues that we need to review in particular.' and it's not closed at all, and it's not even closed to the ones that are in place. It can be the inclusion of other matters that are not there at the moment so it's a very open and transparent process and as the minister indicated, we have the flexibility through the website to take those submissions. Once we have the scoping under way then we'll be able to tease out which bits need to be looked at in detail.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, and I understand from your nodding to the minister before, Mr Risby, that there is statutory process that involves the Tasmanian Planning Commission.

Mr RISBY - Yes, at the end of the day, the state planning provisions will go back through the statutory process as they did initially in 2016 with the Commission making recommendations back to the Government.

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, we still don't have - it's been five years now - a stormwater code, and this is a really serious issue which has affected so many developments that have been approved across this period of time. Five years without a stormwater code. It is a really critical issue that the State Government takes responsibility for, within the planning scheme, of providing the guidelines essentially for councils to be making decisions which affect, not only local councils, their community, and local council infrastructure, but it effects state assets and state infrastructure. If these things are not managed appropriately with the kind of climate change projections that we need to be looking at, then we are all in trouble.

The stormwater code is a problem, and the heritage code, Mr Risby, was not quite about that. What happened with that, is that the Planning Commission required the SPPs to explicitly require councils to maintain local heritage registers and to prepare detailed listing statements, but because some councils raised concern about not having time to do the listing statements work, the legislation that the Government passed allowed heritage places to be included in the Local Heritage Code, but without detailed listing statements. So, that is also a real concern for people who are involved in protecting local heritage, what is actually being properly protected.

Would you be able to respond to those two things?

Mr FERGUSON - Your advocacy just now is the first I have heard that that particular matter has been raised. It has not been raised with me by others. Mr Risby has a response though.

Mr RISBY - If I turn to the stormwater issue first. The first thing to say is that whether there should be a stormwater code or not, will be a matter the SPP review will look at. Absolutely no question about that. There is clearly a lot of interest in that. At the time, in 2016, when we were preparing for State Planning Provisions, there was not regional support across the state for a stormwater code. That ground may have shifted a little, so it is certainly on the agenda to look at.

I mentioned that the SPPs do provide for councils to apply conditions, even though there is not a code, as such. Clause 6.11 of the SPPs provides for conditions or restrictions for a Planning Authority to put on a permit, specifically about erosion, stormwater volume, and quality controls, and they have been doing that, and that has been happening.

With regard to the heritage matter, the transitional provisions that are in place for bringing current heritage listings into the LPS's mean that they can come directly across. The issue with the state code is that it has placed the emphasis on all councils to now consider the heritage matter. There currently are a number of councils who do not have heritage listings at all. They do not even have a heritage code. So the State Planning Provisions process has mandated a heritage code that is there. It is not mandatory for councils to populate it, but clearly the intention of Government is that it is a matter that should be addressed.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. I will just finish up with a question about the Planning Commission.

To you minister, Mr Risby mentioned just then, that there were a range of views around the stormwater code, and not everyone was comfortable with that. The point is that is exactly why we have an independent planning commission, and they heard from all councils, there will always be competing views, and that is the role of an independent planning authority, to make an assessment about what is not only reasonable and fair for the whole of the council, but to look into the future and to think ahead.

What we have is recommendations that were not adopted. Serious outstanding issues. Will you make a commitment to adopting the recommendations of the planning commission at the end of the five-year review, and not just picking out the ones that are comfortable or cherry picking the things that are politically palatable.

Mr FERGUSON - Thank you, Dr Woodruff. I probably will not commit to any particular action, other than to consult. We have just opened consultation on the scoping paper on the SPPs. I think it opened the day before Budget, if I remember correctly. That is open until 29 July. The opportunity is there for advocacy of the nature you have discussed, I believe and a view could be put forward as part of that process, and we would respond accordingly.

I hope you find the answers from Mr Risby are satisfactory in terms of responding to those particular areas that have not been overlooked, but if you believe they can be done better, the opportunity is open right now.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is all in your hands, minister, when the Planning Commission provides its recommendations. That really is where the rubber hits the road for community groups, who have been concerned at the Government's legislation and how it is written out.

The final role of the Planning Commission, the appropriate role in making these complicated decisions and handed it over to you as minister to pick and choose from it. The best thing for Tasmania is if you stood aside in that role -

Mr FERGUSON - Just hand it over to somebody else.

Dr WOODRUFF - and handed that, on this particular issue, because everyone will get their say fairly and independently through the Planning Commission. There are so many competing interests, we need somebody that has an eye to the future and to the long term interests of us all.

Mr FERGUSON - Thank you, Dr Woodruff.