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:
- the “compulsory acquisition tool” – no longer could someone use their property as they see fit, including refusing to sell;
- 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;
- 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.