Keep pushing for planning reform, says City of Onkaparinga

Published on 28 April 2023

The City of Onkaparinga is urging the community to keep pushing for changes to the state’s planning system, as the expert panel prepares to deliver its independent review.

Onkaparinga’s Acting CEO Julia Grant said the review is a rare chance for the state government to meet the community’s demands, amid a loss in community voices and a diminished role of councils in the state’s planning system.

“The introduction of new planning legislation in 2021 swung the pendulum firmly to the benefit of developers,” she said.

“This left the state with the weakest tree protections in the country, difficult-to-enforce local heritage controls, removed appeal rights for neighbours of developments, and required the lowest sustainability building outcomes in the nation.

“The community has told us they want stronger sustainability and design controls; a paradigm shift in tree protection; better protection for local heritage places; and the reinstatement of community voices, which have been lost in the decision-making process.

“But they, and council, are concerned the very clear messages provided to the review panel are being watered-down or dismissed in the face of intense lobbying by developer associations.

“It’s not too late for concerned residents to contact their local MP or Planning Minister Nick Champion to ensure the messages delivered to the review panel are considered and implemented through changes to the Planning Development and Infrastructure Act.

The City of Onkaparinga’s calls follow recent comments by Minister Champion criticising some councils, including Onkaparinga, for ‘needing to do more’ on strategic planning which is a distraction from the clear opportunity of ensuring the planning reforms deliver real high quality developments that deliver for the community, the environment and business.

“The City of Onkaparinga has maintained a collaborative and constructive working relationship with state government, particularly Planning and Land Use Services (PLUS) and the State Planning Commission, to achieve the best outcomes for our local communities and the state,” she said.

“This work has included sound strategic planning and structure plans, planning reviews and rezoning—including in Aldinga, Hackham and Sellicks Beach—that sees us well-placed to not only accommodate growth, but ensure communities are well-planned and sustainable.

The four key outcomes we wish to see in Planning reforms are:

  1. Sustainable design
  2. Improved tree protections
  3. Stronger local heritage protections
  4. Return of appeal rights for neighbours of new development

“We are pleased the commission and PLUS have signalled a greater role for councils in one aspect of local policy development—relating to character and heritage—and we look forward to working with the state government to affect these improvements.”

While the formal community engagement period for the state’s planning review has finished, Grant urged anyone who has concerns about planning and development in their community to contact their local MP or Minister Champion to have their say and effect some positive change before the reforms are adopted in Parliament. 

The council has also posted its letter to the minister on its website