Looking for planning solutions – Mark Percy, Cbus Property
But reassuringly, as might be expected from Mark’s background and given the co-operative model Cbus Property works within, he does suggest there are solutions, and there is evidence from other states to back his view about this, at times, emotive subject.
“Firstly, it is necessary to try and remove as much of the politics from planning as possible. There is politics at most levels of the planning system. As much as possible, the assessment and determination of applications should be done by appropriately skilled professionals.
“In NSW we were starting to see this happen, but with recent decisions of the Government, the determination of more major projects is being undertaken by Local Government rather than through the Department of Planning. Therefore we are at more at risk of small, local issues, which I acknowledge are important issues to the community, not being resolved expeditiously and therefore adding to timely delays.
“I have seen cases where vastly experienced award-winning, respected architects or planners engaged on major projects are often left at times dealing with very junior planning staff who, for various reasons, reject an application that a more experienced assessment officer may have better appreciated the merits of the application. Then, in order to work through this issue, we end up with a less than optimum compromised solution on the matter, just so that the application can be determined and to satisfy a junior staff member’s resolve that either comes from a lack of experience or an overly ridged interpretation of a particular planning code.
“I have seen long-term multi-staged projects with clear planning guidelines and precedents established over many years caught up in this type of ‘mess’ and there is no benefit or up-side.”
“What is even more telling is that the delays from such a process add extra cost, but then the result does not necessarily deliver a better project outcome. We can not afford to loose sight of the fact that the delays cost money, finance costs rise, professional fees mount up, which the developer and then end buyer eventually has to pay for.”
Alongside planning, we are next going to move onto the impact of on-costs and various levies paid by the property development industry and, again, we will see from our discussion with Mark how these costs relate to affordability, finance and supply levels for the residential market.