Consultation Conjuring Trick

The Better Planning Network deplores NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard’s decision not to suspend the Draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney until the new planning system is determined. The Minister’s only concession is to allow people to comment until June 28th – the same day comments are due on the planning White Paper reports this media release from the Beter Planning Network on 26 May 2013.

“Once again the Minister has made a show of giving with one hand, while he actually takes with the other,” said BPN’s Corinne Fisher. “This apparent concession just means that ordinary people still have to absorb and comment on the White Paper and the Metropolitan Strategy at the same time. It’s neither fair nor reasonable.”

The BPN points out that the Government has made much of its community participation strategy, saying that when communities engage at the strategic level they can determine growth outcomes for their local areas.

“How will people react when they find out at Subregional and Local Planning stages that priorities have already been locked in through a Metropolitan Strategy that has morphed into the Sydney Growth Plan and was done and dusted before the new planning system had passed through the Parliament?” asked Ms Fisher.

The BPN is concerned that this seems to be a pattern with the NSW Government. “At the BPN Community Forum on May 20th, Minister Hazzard claimed that the Government was seriously committed to the community. He said: ‘We are genuinely open to consultation,’” said Ms Fisher. “Yet in an article published the same day Minister Hazzard was quoted as saying that there will be no place for residents to engage in ‘site specific wars’.”

“It’s bad enough that the Minister should categorise community comment at the development proposal stage in such terms, but it shows that he is not prepared to consider one of the most important amendments the community wants to see. There is no doubt that people want to have a say about development next door and in their local neighbourhood. This is not a right that should be removed simply to please the development industry,” Ms Fisher said.

If the Minister is really serious about community engagement he will suspend the Metropolitan Strategy until after the new planning system has passed through Parliament and he will not remove the peoples’ right to comment on local development proposals.”

Source: Beter Planning Network Media Release 26 May 2013