02/07/2009 - 00:00

New lead role for planning department

02/07/2009 - 00:00

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PREMIER Colin Barnett has announced changes to the planning process that will establish the Department of Planning as the lead agency in major redevelopment projects, including the Perth waterfront and Northbridge Link.

PREMIER Colin Barnett has announced changes to the planning process that will establish the Department of Planning as the lead agency in major redevelopment projects, including the Perth waterfront and Northbridge Link.

At an industry function last week, at which the state government's new plans for the Perth foreshore were revealed, Mr Barnett announced sweeping changes to the planning process for redevelopment projects.

Among the stated changes were: the replacement of LandCorp as the lead agency for the waterfront project; the replacement of the East Perth Redevelopment Authority as the lead agency for the Northbridge Link project; the phasing out of most existing redevelopment authorities; halting the establishment of new redevelopment authorities; and the revamping of EPRA to become the sole metropolitan redevelopment authority.

While authorities such as EPRA are the responsibility of the planning minister, it has its own board and is autonomous from the department.

The announcement that LandCorp will no longer have a central role in the planning of the Perth waterfront redevelopment marked a shift from the government's position in May, when Lands Minister Brendon Grylls told WA Business News it would play a major role.

Similarly, in early April, Planning Minister John Day stated that EPRA was the lead agency for the Northbridge Link.

In response to questions from WA Business News, Mr Day said the premier's comment about the Department of Planning being the lead agency "is a generalisation of planning responsibilities".

Property Council of Australia (WA) chief executive Joe Lenzo welcomed the waterfront agency move.

"For quite some time we've been proposing that LandCorp go back to its fundamentals, which is so vital for the WA economy that we have a proper industrial lands authority," he said.

"They should do that, and leave the major projects to either a redevelopment authority such as East Perth or Subiaco, which have been successful, or to something similar."

Mr Lenzo said the proposed changes had the potential to streamline the planning approvals process and cut down unnecessary red tape.

The premier said that a wider metropolitan view had to be adopted with regard to redevelopment authorities, citing the phasing out of the current suburb-specific model.

"That model, on balance, has been very successful. What is proposed is that we will move to a single Perth metropolitan redevelopment authority,'' Mr Barnett said at the function.

 

Relevant extract from Premier Colin Barnett's speech to the Urban Development Institute of Australia Luncheon on 24 June 2009 is pasted below:

 

Finally, can I just make a few comments on some governance issues. There are a lot of players involved, obviously all the private sector interest, but within the Government itself - the State Government and Cabinet, the Department of Planning, the Planning Commission, bodies such as the East Perth Redevelopment Authority, the Perth City Council, the Central Perth Planning Committee - there's a complex array of organisations.



We have some outstanding people in the Planning Commission, the Department of Planning, the City of Perth, and the redevelopment authorities, who just happen to have experienced, quality people at the Government level, matched by some outstanding people in the private sector. We have a new State Architect who will be involved in all this development, particularly the waterfront development.



So we've got an opportunity because of the expertise to bring this all together in a sensible way.



For the waterfront itself, carriage of that project to this point had been with Landcorp. Now, Landcorp may play a role down the path, I do not know that, but the carriage of the project - the waterfront project - will be with the Department of Planning under Eric Lumsden. Now, they will take a pre-eminent role in the initial planning, consultation, working out what can be done, how it will be done.



Similarly, the Department of Planning - from a State Government perspective - will be the lead agency in the Cultural Centre, obviously working closely with the Department of Arts. It will be the lead agency in the Northbridge Link project and, again, obviously working closely with the Public Transport Authority who will have the direct responsibility of sinking the infrastructure. And it will work very closely with the Perth City Council on the waterfront.



The Perth Central Planning Committee will have a broad oversight co-ordinating role, and I hope that will give some clarity to governance, and use the skills of the people we have heading up those various agencies.



And to take a wider metropolitan view, we have had over the years the development of redevelopment authorities: East Perth, Subiaco, Midland and Armadale. That model, on balance, has been very successful. I know you'd get some argument on that, but I think the success is there to be seen. What is proposed is that we will move to a single Perth Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. Rather than recreate a new entity or establish a new entity every time, there will be a single body.



Now, the transition to that will be that when Subiaco Redevelopment Authority finishes its task, and it's close to that now, perhaps the remaining parts of it will merge into the responsibility of the East Perth Redevelopment Authority. Midland will carry on, and Armadale will carry on, but we won't create anymore. And the East Perth Redevelopment Authority will become a Metropolitan Perth Redevelopment Authority to be able to go into any area of Perth, metropolitan area of Perth, where there is a need for a redevelopment to have that expediency and authority to do the planning, to work with local authorities and to break the backlog. And that will be under the authority of John Day.



And I think that will give a better focus, and I think we can all probably think of areas of Perth that need that ability for an agency to move in, bring about the change, bring in the private sector investment, change the planning, change the zoning and then move on to the next one. And so I hope that we see not only the revitalisation of the CBD, but we see many areas - sub-regional, and perhaps ignored, neglected areas of Perth... metropolitan Perth - redeveloped.



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