20/09/2005 - 22:00

Questions over regulation regime

20/09/2005 - 22:00

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Policy, regulation and unclear or contradictory legislation are major impediments for the development industry, according to attendees at WA Business News’ development forum.

Questions over regulation regime

Policy, regulation and unclear or contradictory legislation are major impediments for the development industry, according to attendees at WA Business News’ development forum.

Urban Development Institute of Western Australia WA executive director, Marion Fulker, said there had been too great a focus on regulation rather than innovation, and that not a week went by without new policy from state or local government.

“There are tour groups coming over to WA, particularly into the metro area, every week looking at the good quality urban development work we have. That seems to get lost in the focus on regulation, which may have a detrimental effect on us being one of the leading states for development,” Ms Fulker told the forum.

“It would be good if the Government thought strategically – it would be good if there was a longer term focus than just the election cycle.

“The Government has got a mechanism in the Keating report on streamlining their processes and being more efficient, and I would encourage them to use it. They commissioned it, I don’t know why they don’t take heed of work done for them.”

Philips Fox special counsel Belinda Moharich said a better integration of policy among government agencies would make life much easier for developers.

“There are a number of contradicting policies among a number of state government departments and you are supposed to comply with all of them, which is obviously impossible,” Ms Moharich said.

“Another change that is needed in WA is to allow a better integration of the environmental assessment process with the development process.

“It is something that causes a lot of pain to developers because they are two separate processes, and the environmental assessment process isn’t governed by the same rigours as the planning process in WA in terms of its timelines and rights of appeal.”

Professor Fred Affleck said he believed the State Government’s recent initiative to establish a larger, more omnibus redevelopment authority was a sign of frustration at the inability to get things happening by relying upon the parochial processes of local government.

ATA Environmental partner Dr Paul van der Moezel said his preferred policy change would be the recognition by regulators that Perth was a capital city and a metropolitan area.

“While that doesn’t mean you should clear all the bush and build right up to the coast, we should have decision making which uses the word sustainable in the right way,” he said. “[It should] look at social, environmental and economic impacts of development in a capital city and not be so skewed towards the biological environment.”

Peet and Company managing director Warwick Hemsley said the themes of limiting sprawl, taking into account public transport opportunities and increasing density, were not without criticism.

“There are different forces at work,” he said. “The desire to live in the suburban environment is a very strong held desire by many Australians.

“And to have that at an affordable price is a desire had by many Australians.”

Understaffing of key government departments involved in planning approvals was a major hold up on development identified by Satterley Property Group managing director and chief executive, Nigel Satterley.

“In the planning department and environmental areas, we are happy to pay to get the approvals quicker,” Mr Satterley said.  

“I have approached the premier on two occasions about industry contributing to pay more money to key staff, but he’s not interested.

“We need to get more efficient approvals, and pay the key people in government more money.

“Developers are happy to pay more to get things approved.”

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