ACT Community Councils call out the Failure of planning

Combined Community Councils’ submission is a must read

There are many comments circulating about the 400 submissions received by the planning directorate on what the community thinks of the ACT Government’s attempt to reform planning.

That’s a lot of unpaid volunteer work. There are always interesting perspectives and new thoughts on such matters.

Unfortunately for reasons only known to themselves, the planning directorate has not followed the former practice of listing the submissions so that it is possible to see each submission and who submitted it. This time there are about 20 bundles of 20 community submissions joined together as large pdfs with another 40 or so more individual industry submissions. There is no way to find particular submissions without trawling through the whole lot.

To see this planning bureaucratic lack of respect for the many who spent huge amounts of volunteer time on their feedback, google ‘your say ACT Planning Reform’.

Residents would have carried out this work in the good faith that their feedback and suggestions would be treated seriously. This is the serious disconnect. Those that receive them have another agenda as set by the chief minister. Anything submitted that contradicts their interpretation of his ideology, is treated as not-so-serious or irrelevant.

The signs are not good judging by the regular placement of media articles highlighting what the government is looking to introduce. None of their desired concepts, missing middle, less parking etc, are based on the majority of submissions received. That’s the way this planning bureaucracy operates. It looks to please the chief minister not the well informed but pesky residents – no matter how many submissions they lodge.

There is one remarkable submission. The Combined Community Councils ACT have a joint submission on these reforms. It says it all. The ACT planning bureaucracy who is running this reform circus has failed its own criteria as set in November 2020 – a month after the 2020 ACT elections. Convenient!

This joint submission is outstanding because of the variations in interests across the eight community councils and their memberships they represent. The submission reflects the level of concerns by each community council. Their members have witnessed nothing good about how this reform carnival was conducted. There has been little respect shown by Greenslabor politicians whenever they were confronted with the anxiety within the community sector about the obnoxious stuff that was being proposed.

The joint submission reflects what is being raised in other submissions. There’s no room here to list all the common issues (there are many) or the expand on the levels of distrust of those who mismanaged the reforms – the planning bureaucrats. The bureaucracy will have its own ‘listening report’ that will downplay the resident’s concerns and cherry-pick the items that suit the agenda as set by the chief minister – the real person running this charade to deregulation the city’s planning.

The real summary of the resident’s submissions would be that this badly managed planning reform is about to undo the cherished character of the established suburbs, the new set of complex documentation is disconnected from each other and is harder to fathom that the previous, will do nothing to improve compliance, is based on vague statements that when used as assessment tools will be a loose set of deregulated guides that developers will choose whether to be serious about or not – and the list goes on. These reforms pay minimal attention to heritage, neighbourhood character, climate issues, biodiversity, aesthetics and are totally disrespectful of the sense of place that neighbourhoods have about their immediate streets, parks and suburban areas.

If ACT government politicians had any respect for residents and have managed to retain a skerrick of humane values, then there is only one set of actions to be taken. This is a complete failure of the planning bureaucracy to deliver anything resembling an innovative 21st century planning system.

Surely if a cohort of bureaucrats have messed up and failed so badly, there must be consequences and someone must go.

Read the Combined Community Councils’ submission – it is all there.

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