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OP-ED: Problems & Pitfalls with Planning Scheme

6 February 2020, The Examiner

HAVING spent nine years on local council I am well aware of the deficiencies and intricacies of the Land Use Planning Act and more than once I have seen people deflated, angry and left scratching their heads when something that seemed so simple and a no-brainer was refused. Refused, not because the planner didn't think it was reasonable or met many conditions of the planning scheme, but because at least one criteria were not permitted under the Act. It is not just the big developers who are affected, and who we hear about regularly, it is also the everyday person, be it, mum and dad, young couples renovating, or in some cases people making what seems a simple addition or change to their home. We are seeing residential developments suffering in cases which can be characterised as vexatious and, at times, downright absurd. An example is a shed, which incidentally could not be seen from the road or other properties, proposed on a large rural residential block in the Rural Living Zone with many of the neighbouring blocks already having sheds much larger. This constituent jumped through lots of hoops before being advised that under the current interim planning scheme you cannot have greater outbuildings (one or combined) of 150m2 in this zone. However, he was advised that if he waited for the new statewide planning scheme, this would be discretionary and in all likelihood approved. Northern Tasmania, Launceston in particular, has already seen two significant developments slip through its fingers, due in part, to burdensome and confusing planning and development regulations. Developers Errol Stewart and Josef Chromy have decided to move prospective developments to southern Tasmania. The loss of these developments from Launceston translates into the loss of tens of millions of investment dollars. All developers need certainty and confidence to go forward as well as a level of consistency across this small state. The Examiner's editorial (January 28) rightfully pointed out that the push for a statewide planning scheme goes back years, my recollection being it was to have been in place from July 1, 2017. The Tasmanian Planning Scheme is slated to "deliver consistency in the planning controls applying across the state, and provide the necessary flexibility to address local issues". To this end, the scheme will consist of State Planning Provisions, which are the baseline standards to which all developments in all municipalities must comply, and the Local Provisions Schedules which are council-specific and allow them to make variations to development applications to preserve local character as councils are best placed to determine specific requirements or "unique" places in their own municipalities. The Tasmanian Planning Scheme still seems very much unsettled and until it is, interim planning schemes are in place. Some degree of statewide standardisation is apparent under the interim schemes, but clearly, some municipalities are more attractive to developers than others. As I understand it, most councils submitted their draft Local Provision Schedules in the latter half of 2019 and it is expected that the entirety of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme is to be finalised and in place later this year. I believe the Tasmanian Planning Commission will publicly exhibit the draft provisions in the coming months and following this the commission will then provide final approval, with sign off by the relevant minister, allowing the statewide provisions to take effect. We have waited long enough and the consequences are already being felt. Launceston is a city which is aspiring to be one of the great regional cities in Australia if not the world. However, if the Tasmanian Planning Scheme is not implemented properly and expediently, we will become further ill-prepared to meet the future needs that are quickly becoming apparent. With hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into our region through the City Deal and the University Transformation Project (among other projects), we need to be thinking - and acting - quickly to ensure that our infrastructure is well-prepared to accommodate the associated growth in population, business and services. The loss of these developments from Launceston translates into the loss of tens of millions of investment dollars to our region. All developers need certainty and confidence to go forward as well as a level of consistency across this small state. Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC


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