The conclusions of this intricate study, which compared planning in Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, placed NSW last of the four regions regarding the time required for determinations and the impact on productivity.
Basically NSW planning determinations require twice the time as the other three states. This fact bears a major influence on holding costs of land and the capability of developers to react to the market. Some community members may believe that the more time it takes, that’s more time allowed for a developer to build new homes; however, the end result is an increase in the price of the houses.
The Mecone Report says that—according to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s published info–the LGAs have not been able to meet demand for the last 7 years. In fact, of a total of 33 councils 23 have not fulfilled demand throughout the past 7 years.
The report details the fact that the completion of residences in Sydney has lagged below the level needed to accomplish State demand projections.
In comparison, Melbourne and Brisbane dwelling approval rates loom well above the rates required.
The Mecone Report then examined whether DA times were on the upswing recently. Their analysis revealed that between 2015-16 and 2017-18, the mean gross days for a DA determination rose by 44% in the Sydney Metropolitan region and in NSW. Therefore, DA times are lengthening.
For Medium Density Housing, the report declares that NSW has a far longer estimated development timeframe, standing at 200 business days, in comparison to a 70-105 business day approximate timespan for other states. This timeframe is nearly double that of the next slowest state (QLD’s Impact Assessable pathway), and beyond triple the assumed legislated timeframe of about two months.
In the report chapter entitled “Overarching Observations” the Mecone Report expresses some negativity about NSW, saying that the area imposes highly stringent requirements for the development of LEPs – supplying the least flexibility.
The chapter continues by saying that QLD’s ‘Code Assessable’ and ‘Impact Assessible’ pathways substantially simplify the pathway of development for proponents.
The report outlines added requirements in the NSW system not apparent in other regions. This includes additional competitions and design review processes and panels, reports and plans.
The Mecone Report states in essence that NSW has a slow, complicated planning system and big reforms are required.
The NSW Government has pledged to enhance its planning system, yet is meeting substantial resistance from residents resistant to change.
The Federal Productivity Commission completed a 2011 survey of opinions regarding growth and change in Australian communities. Melbourne and Brisbane reflected the fact that half the population would not welcome a growing population; and in Sydney, two thirds of the population had no desire for population growth. It is this general attitude that has infiltrated planning departments at state and local levels.
The Mecone Report indicated ‘culture’ as a problematic area of concern in the NSW planning system, but suggests no solutions. If the culture of planners does not morph, then NSW and Sydney will not advance. With all hopes, this report will spark reform.