O'Farrell keeps planning promise

NEW NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has stuck to his election promise by scrapping Part 3A of the planning laws and returning major planning decisions to local government.

Mr O’Farrell announced the changes this morning, but those applications already lodged under the controversial scheme will be considered in accordance with the old rules.

Northern Rivers councils were among those who were vehemently opposed to the planning laws which allowed the State Government to override a decision by local councils if the planned development was considered of State significance.

“Repealing Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act was one of my government’s key election pledges – and it will be implemented,” Mr O’Farrell said.

Mr O’Farrell explained as it requires legislation, the scrapping of Part 3A would be done in stages.

“From today, no new Part 3A applications for private residential, commercial, retail or coastal development will be accepted,” he said.

“The time has come to give planning powers back to local communities. Cabinet has directed the Minister for Planning to draw up detailed plans to repeal Part 3A from the Statute books permanently – and this will be done when Parliament resumes.”

Mr O’Farrell said transitional arrangements would be put in place to deal with the more than 500 Part 3A applications already in the system.

Subject to the final transition arrangements, he said it was anticipated that about half of these applications would be referred to the Planning Assessment Commission for determination.

“A further quarter will be referred to local government for determination and others, which have been in the system for up to two years, will lapse.

“A full review of the state’s planning legislation will also be undertaken, which is expected to take around 18 months.

“The days of giving the Planning Minister sweeping powers to approve developments at the stroke of a pen with virtually no consultation with local communities are over,” he said.

“That extreme power only leads to the sort of suspicion and shady deals that we have seen in NSW over the last 16 years.

“We want to give planning powers back to local communities. They know what is best for their area and they should determine which developments should proceed.

“This is another election promise which will be delivered," Mr O’Farrell said.

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