Planning positioning

The Property Council of Australia has published its plan for the future of Sydney’s urban planning, renewal and management. It tries hard to not simply be a developer’s wishlist, but there are (unsurprisingly) self-serving suggestions in there. The more egregious ones are:

  1. the “compulsory acquisition tool” – no longer could someone use their property as they see fit, including refusing to sell;
  2. the reform of strata title laws so that a 75% majority (instead of unanimity) would be enough to dissolve the strata scheme – majoritarianism run amok, I say;
  3. and the emasculation of local government by “preventing unreasonable and unworkable local controls”.

There are plenty of stupid council dictates, corollaries of stupid State and Federal laws, that I don’t dispute. If I had my druthers, for example, all internal works wouldn’t need a DA, nor any alterations that only affect the residents, not the neighbours. But this proposal sounds like an attempt to shut out councils altogether, putting more power into the hands of State politicians and their developer donors. Of course, the whole plan is geared to do that, no surprise there.

The plan for a plan. I think developers are trying to reach beyond influencing MPs and government departments by attempting to guide the public discussion on a broader scale, to set the agenda for what’s in and what’s out. It’s a good strategy. If they can set up a bracketing bias in the ensuing deliberations, it pre-emptively excludes other ideas that may be better for Sydney, but not for them.

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5 Responses to Planning positioning

  1. ex-expat says:

    Compulsory acquisition can have some benefits, but should be subject review by a tribunal and only for projects of community benefit (roads, hospitals etc, not apartments).

    The proposed reforms to the strata laws are a more difficult one . Singapore moved away from outright majority to 75%, found that caused equity issues (little old ladies getting kicked out etc) so upped it to 85% for smaller / older developments at left it at 75% of newer / bigger ones. I think 85% is about right, but again, there has to be a mechanism (i.e tribunal / court system at zero cost to the minority resisting the dissoloution) to ensure that the minorities rights are respected and value paid for those properties is equal, if not higher, than the majority, as often the ones that hold out have compelling reasons not to relocate – that said, espeically in Singapore, you do get the odd nut job who simply wanted double what everyone else got.

    A great criminal justice system Singapore doesn’t have, but a good balance between majority and minority rights in terms of property and starta schemes is an area i think we can look and learn from them.

    The bit about local rules is simply stupid. Federal systems work well when every level of government has clearly defined and non-overlapping roles. In Australia, too often we simply see centralisation of power as a tool to remove overlap. What is wrong with the State setting the planning principles and the local governments being responsible for assessment, approval and enforcement? that would give consistency of planning laws (desirable some might say) or how about the state sets the minimum standards (i.e plot to building ratio etc) but give local councils the right to seet HIGHER standards (i.e LESS dense etc) to give some say to local residents about how they want their community to evolve.

    All in all, typical corporate response. Looks well thought out, but reveals the true (profit) motive upon closer inspection.

  2. Jarrah says:

    I’m suspicious of any compulsory acquisition. It may have benefits to wider society, but is that really enough to justify it? And that’s before we examine the purported benefits – who decides, what stops abuse? Tribunal review would be ineffective if the requisite legislation is passed by the stymied government.

    75% or 85% or 100% doesn’t really concern me. I fail to see the need to have any mandatory level – surely the strata schemes can set their own? That way you have certainty, respect for property rights, voluntary flexibility, variety to suit different wants, and you avoid retrospective changes.

  3. john walker says:

    The different rates of capital gains on different forms of investment and the generous treatment of negative gearing dosn’t help. Reform of it might make the system less disfunctional, it might even result in more new houses rather than rising prices for existing land and houses.
    Trying to control something with one hand and throwing on petrol with the other is not likely to work.
    It is hard to see what is the community gain in this %70 percent rule. Australia’s city’s are not short of land , they are short of new housing, this looks like more powers/ support to playing around with already existing housing stock.
    Mind, a lot of stratas were/are so poorly built that after 20- years it is cheaper to rebuild than try to repair. Strata schemes (we used to live in one )are a always a nightmare of- “equity issues (little old ladies getting kicked out etc) “. How do you tell a sweet old thing on a fixed income, that the strata contributions that have not changed in more than a decade, need to be doubled ?

  4. Jarrah says:

    Yes, planning is affected and distorted by the tax regime, it’s no wonder the result isn’t optimal.

  5. john walker says:

    I live in a small country town, around here there are literally hundreds of small rural Subdvisons that have no hope of end buyers and will sit on the market for years. Just one project represents an investment of 3+ million into a pipe-clay bog by mug punters fixed on tax effective schemes .It has not sold even one of its 40 blocks.
    It is not hard to see where all money went. we will be paying the debt of for decades, no?

    By the way do you think Nick Minchin has: jumped the shark , has some cunning plan,
    OR What?

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