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Govt called on to release completed planning system review

Planning Minister Nick Champion says a major review of South Australia’s planning system will be released “in the near future” after the Opposition accused him of letting the report – completed nine months ago – “collect dust”.

Jan 11, 2024, updated Jan 30, 2024
Australia should spend more on social housing and less on investor tax breaks, a report has found. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Australia should spend more on social housing and less on investor tax breaks, a report has found. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Champion commissioned a four-member industry panel in August 2022 to review South Australia’s planning legislation, parts of the Planning and Design Code and the e-planning system.

The “generational” review, led by planning consultant and former urban development lobby president John Stimson, examined contentious aspects of the state’s planning system including urban infill, heritage, character, car parking and trees.

The panel handed its final report to the Minister in April 2023, making 113 recommendations for reform.

Opposition planning spokesperson Michelle Lensink today called on the government to release the report immediately.

She said a freedom of information request she filed for the report was knocked back in September because cabinet’s budget committee was “yet to consider” the review.

“I think South Australians deserve to have some answers as to why this government merrily does all the photo ops and pics at land releases which we know are going to take literally years for those places to be built,” Lensink said.

“They’re also taking credit for a lot of work that exists in the private sector from private landholders who’ve sought to get those parcels of land rezoned.

“We want to know how quickly those are going to come on stream for families who desperately need houses.

“But in the meantime, we’ve got this expert planning review that is sitting collecting dust and that could potentially relieve a lot of pressure in areas that aren’t related to land releases.”

Champion said the government was assessing all 113 recommendations of the review, which covers “a wide range of topics from trees and heritage to parking and housing density”.

He also said two members of the expert panel – Stimson and BRM advisory director Lisa Teburea – had been appointed to the State Planning Commission to “provide continuity and oversight to the intent of the panel’s recommendations”. Their appointments were made in July 2023, according to the Planning Commission’s website.

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“The planning system is incredibly complex, and this is a major body of work, so we don’t want to rush this process as we review the recommendations and potential impacts,” Champion said in a statement.

“Planning Reform is a matter of evolution, not revolution and the Government’s resulting changes will impact every South Australian so is important to get it right the first time.

“With other city and state shaping initiatives such as the Greater Regional Adelaide Plan also in train as well as the pressure of the national housing crisis it is important that the recommendations be considered.”

Champion said he aims to “release the Panel Report and Government’s response in the near future”.

He also accused the Liberal Party of rezoning “less than 190 hectares of land” during their time in office compared to “close to 2000 hectares” made available during the Malinauskas Government’s time in office.

The head of the expert panel review told an industry event in March 2023 that the “vast majority” of concerns raised by stakeholders during the review was about tree protection.

The Urban Development Institute of SA called on the review to shift South Australia’s development focus away from “ad hoc” general infill development, while some councils submitted their concerns that the new planning code – introduced in 2021 – had diminished their powers. 

The review received more than 600 public submissions, held 14 workshops and heard deputations from 23 community groups.

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