Developers seek to fast-track planning laws in bid to sidestep community groups

Laws governing what can be built in NSW should be "turbo-charged" to reform the state's planning system without a mandate from Parliament, the Property Council of Australia says.

But community advocates say such a move would further anger the public, denying residents a say in local planning and delaying construction projects.

The developer lobby is agitating for action after the state government's maligned planning reforms stalled six months ago after failing to pass the NSW upper house.

The delay has been an ongoing embarrassment for the Coalition, particularly for former planning minister Brad Hazzard who was unable to negotiate crossbench support for his signature reforms.

The NSW division of the Property Council has submitted a policy paper to the government outlining in detail how the planning regime can be reformed under existing laws.

It includes a proposal to "turbo-charge" the complying development system.

This would mean more projects that meet certain criteria, such as some commercial development or housing types, would not require planning approval and could be fast-tracked.

This would replicate parts of the government's controversial "code assessment" proposal. That system would force councils to approve developments in high-growth areas that meet agreed requirements, such as building heights, within 25 days, with no community appeal rights.

The Property Council is also pushing the government to identify a further eight "urban activation precincts" in the next six months.

The contentious urban renewal projects, comprising high-rise development near transport hubs, have met stiff opposition from councils and communities in areas including Randwick, Anzac Parade and Mascot.

Property Council NSW executive director Glenn Byres said existing laws should be used "efficiently and effectively" to reboot the planning regime, saying those who rejected such a move were "just opposed to all change".

"While Parliament sorts itself out, you can't sit idle in a policy sense and assume investment will continue to flow into NSW," he said.

New Planning Minister Pru Goward is yet to reveal whether she will withdraw the failed bill, or if she plans to resolve the impasse before the election in March next year.

"I recognise it is important to get the balance right, and to develop a system which is simpler, better understood, and more efficient," she said.

Better Planning Network convener Corinne Fisher, whose organisation represents more than 400 community groups, said circumventing Parliament "will not solve anything".

She pointed to Metgasco's gas mining project at Bentley, the licence for which has been suspended following massive public opposition.

"Moving ahead with proposed planning changes that are deeply unpopular … is just going to anger communities," she said.

"For development to proceed smoothly, it needs to have communities on board."


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