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Planning NSW New Planning System 2012 paper by David Holland

22 Sep

Submission to NSW State Government on Green Paper

For some time myself and colleges in the planning discipline have felt that a more strategic approach to planning would be a better course. We have watched the integrated approach produce a variety of unintended developments over the years.

Following are some links to some of the work we have done with this philosophy of strategic planning in mind.

Central Coast Regional Growth Area by Dr. Ray Rauscher and Kevin Armstrong

Submission for the North Wyong Structure Plan NSW Australia

Submission on discussion paper on long-term transport planning for NSW: Paper

Submission on discussion paper on long-term transport planning for NSW: Article

Wyong Transport precinct, a proposal for renewal

Blue Haven Train and Bus Interchange 2012 

While subscribing to the move towards a more strategic approach to planning environments, I have concerns that proper consideration of natural environments could be sidelined in favor of economic consideration. My concerns stem from the stated overarching objectives of the new planning system as stated below:

  1. Promote economic development and competitiveness
  2. Connect people and places
  3. Protect the environment
  4. Improve people’s quality of life
  5. Resolve land use trade-offs based on social, economic and environmental factors
  6. Effectively manage growth and change.

Perhaps a cynical view, but with one chance to get the strategic plan in place, often real public participation is limited to a few interested persons until the final reality of a project going ahead. A typical human trait is to let others do the work until it affects themselves. So as a result big business, who are able to pay consultants to be engaged in this strategic phase are likely to sway the public participation component away from natural environmental considerations in favor of economic advantages.

Very few of the public have both the expertise and the time to be intimately involved in the strategic phase for planning.

Let us remember the strategic approach made some 10 or so years ago by the Department of Planning in NSW and the public participation on the Central Coast of the “Shaping the Central Coast “ strategic planning project.

Two observations are worth mentioning.

  1. Not many people participated in this planning phase
  2. No follow-up or resultant plan was produced connected to the project.

Possibly some of this data collected in around the year 2000 during the project was used in the 2006 Central Coast Strategic plan, however this plan, having its own public participation phase did not gain a lot of public participation in the broader community either.

Following is a paper using a model example in the Wyong Shire for public participation:

Local Government precinct committees and ecologically sustainable development, ESD based urban planning by Dr. Ray Rauscher

Concerns related to the Green paper proposal for New Planning Scheme objectives

I have some concerns and issues with the language of the objectives of the new plan.

The objectives are as follow as from the green paper.

Objectives

The new planning system will need to be:

  •  Simple – reduce complexity and remove red tape
  • Certain – provide predictability and certainty about how decisions are made for both investors and the community
  • Transparent – base decisions on strong community participation and evidence
  • Efficient – achieve time frames for completion of planning processes through increased 
accountability for efficient decision-making
  • Integrated – promote greater cooperation and partnerships between all levels of government, and 
balance environmental protection with economic growth
  • Responsive – provide flexibility to respond to change and ensure markets are competitive 


These form the objectives of the new Act.

The achievement of sustainable development will remain the main objective of the Act.

Commentary on the language of the Objectives

“The Removal of Red Tape”

Language like “the removal of red tape”, both lack professionalism and is an emotive term. It suggests that the current system of checks and proper assessment has no value except to bind up the process. These checks are in a system of integrated development, where objectives are codified.  As stated in the green paper these codes may not seem to be relevant in the assessment process, but one should remember that they were put in place to achieve an objective often not in the interests of a developer. These checks, while in my opinion often inadequate to preserve the integrity of natural systems, are an attempt to consider non-economic relationships in the landscape.

Another concerning phrase is “balance environmental protection with economic growth”.

The word balance can be interpreted in at least two different ways that can result in inappropriate developments occurring.

These meaning are:

  1. Balanced with the idea of equality. This would mean that an equal amount of loss of the environment must be the required balance for an equal amount of provision for economic growth. As equality is difficult to measure between these notional ideas, it is most likely that developer sponsored consultants will argue for a significant loss of unquantifiable environmental values as a trade-off for economic growth arguments.
  2. Balanced in the sense of reasonability. The argument would be on the part of the development proponents consultant, that it is reasonable to destroy a specified amount of environmental values to achieve a ‘reasonable amount of economic growth.

This term ‘balanced’ in this context is a word that becomes very subjective. In other words, its application depends on the views of the user. In this case the proponents consultant and the proponent of a development that has clear economic values attached to it. Having been a consultant for a range of developers I am aware of such arguments.

As a result, developments will be far from what others might consider “balanced”.

Another term used is ‘flexibility’

Flexibility seems a progressive term, but in reality could dilute the intentions of a planning instrument. Under the current scheme State Environment Planning policy Number one (S.E.P.P. 1) provided up to a 10% variation to the planning Codes and instruments. This variation was sort by proponents and assessed by local council planners. However, all applications with such a provision under the current system went through a public exhibition stage.

Flexibility in the context of the objectives is more nebulas than just applying it to variations of standards or of a strategic plan, it seems to be weighted towards providing unplanned for economic values to a development to assist developers to get bigger profits. I hope that I am too cynical in saying this. If this were the case and provision was built into the planning legislation to maximize profits of a development, then properly considered and public participation endorsed strategic plans and their defining planning instruments will be heavily eroded through an unfettered flexibility approach.

Concern and recommendations:

  • The new planning system must have ecologically sustainable development (ESD) as its overarching objective. A genuine commitment to ESD requires legislative mechanisms that mandate consideration of environmental matters and set minimum environmental standards. The new planning act must enshrine ESD including the use of the precautionary principle and intergenerational equity.
  • Proposed planning instrument regime: NSW Planning Policies, Regional Growth Plans, Sub-regional Plans, Local Land Use Plans must ensure that existing environment protections are maintained in the new planning system (including those set out in existing State Environmental Planning Policies). Natural Resource Management (NRM) targets should be included in strategic and sub-regional plans.
  • Although I subscribe to more initial strategic planning, codes may still be used for assessment of individual developments under the new integrated development model, recognizing that this component in the new planning scheme will be smaller than the present scheme. However it is recommended that the use of a code assessment process be used for genuinely known impact developments. That is developments that comply with the strategically formulated planning instrument. (Assuming the instrument has gone through scientific rigger and gone though a public participation process.)

The Government’s proposal to substantially expand code complying development will limit public participation opportunities, reduce accountability and weaken environmental protection unless the strategic planning implement or instruments are strong and prescriptive. (This statement opens the opportunity for a class of sub instruments similar to Development control plans (DCPs) providing finer detail for development compliance. These instruments should be reviewed regularly as planning opportunities change.)

  • The new Planning system must prescribe mechanisms for managing climate change impacts and mitigation. Climate change adaption and mitigation must be considered during strategic planning processes.                                  See link: Planning for Climate Change in the coastal regions of NSW .
  • Ensure that merit appeal rights are available for all state significant development and infrastructure.
  • Under the strategic planning instrument making phase, requirements for the carrying out of environmental studies, consideration of environmental criteria, and processes for effective community engagement must be included.
  • That regular 5 year reviews be undertaken for the plan making instruments both at the state and local/regional government levels to enable continued public participation on the evolving directions of the strategic plan over time.
  • Existing methods of public participation (for example notification procedures and exhibition periods) should be retained in the new planning system for individual proposals under the planning instruments. This is to ensure that the variety of potential controls that apply to the development within an instrument for a particular location is appropriate and acceptable to the community. And that any conditions set by the planning authority is acceptable to the community.
  • The Government’s proposal to require consideration of cumulative impacts during the strategic planning phase is a step in the right direction. The new planning system needs to provide a clear process for this to occur.
  • Flexibility for development applications The proposal to allow developers to make applications that do not comply with development controls will tend to undermine strategic planning efforts, goal and intentions.  In these circumstances, a full and comprehensive public consultation process should be engaged in. In the case of major land use change proposals, proponents should be required to wait until the 5 year review of the planning instrument to get approval. In some circumstances it may be appropriate to conduct a mini review at a 2 and a half year interval. However all public participation requirements must be met. As with plan making under the present scheme, merit appeals may have to be assessed by a regional planning panel or land and environment court. The only flexibility that should be allowable in this strategic new planning model should be the review process related to the planning instruments.
  • Public priority infrastructure applications – These must be assessed at the times of the planning instrument reviews. Government agencies should be able to work on plans well in advance so that these infrastructure priorities can be considered in the same way as a zoning change under the planning instrument, unless it is a complying development.
  • Merit Assessment The new planning system must mandate that environmental impacts must be considered during the development assessment phase of a development application. Recommendations 71, 72 and 73 of the Planning Review outline matters for consideration including Aboriginal heritage, air quality, biodiversity, climate change projections, human health and livability, soil, water and the water cycle, and the public interest.  These are important considerations and should be enacted in a similar way to present legislation which in part relies on other acts such as the Threatened Species Act etc.
  • Removal of concurrences There are insufficient reasons for departing from the recommendations of the Independent Panel for an improved concurrence process. It is not enough to require agency input at the strategic planning phase. Proper assessment of a development by concurrence agencies is required once all the impacts of a proposed development are known and to test its compliance with the planning instrument through a review process.  This insures that all related agency interests and stakeholders are consulted through the processes of the development application.
  • Accreditation of consultants .The new planning system should strengthen penalties for proponents who deliberately provide false and misleading information in the course of seeking an approval or permit under the new planning system. This advice or information should be able to be challenged by credited professionals and be available to the public on request to the regional planning Authority.
  • Corridor Planning – In this new planning proposal the government has proposed a strategic approach to planning a landscape or region. This means that a range of land use components will be considered and planned for in the plan. This should include natural areas connected by natural area corridors suitably wide to enable connectivity for biodiversity transfer and the provisions for habitat for a wide variety of naturally occurring organisms. This green paper must be applauded for including this component of the landscape. The attached link may be helpful in planning these natural spaces, as it is the intension of the new planning scheme to wind back the provisions of voluntary conservation agreements (VCAs).

See link:

Submission on the Review of the Biobanking scheme in NSW

I agree with the statement below from chapter 23, headed “Planning Culture” in the green paper.

“There needs to be a shift of culture and 
resources to focus more on strategy, outcomes and innovation, and move away from statutory planning, repetitive processes and bureaucratic procedures. In particular, resources need to move toward a next generation of planners who can lead the integration of infrastructure and land use, and better understand land economics and growth management.”

As a development control planner in the 1990s, I found the job less that stimulating, churning out similar development approvals all day. Since becoming independent, I have found a freedom to contribute to planning in NSW by offering ideas and submissions on a much more strategic level.  Hopefully, some of the papers available in the links above may contribute to this innovative approach hoped for in the ‘new planning scheme’.

Conclusion

Overall the strategy has given hope for a bright and prosperous future for the NSW planning. It is encouraging to have planning move towards a more holistic approach. The green paper flags that even with the growth in population the natural environment is important to preserve. It proposes green corridor links and will revolutionize the current planning scheme making the strategic a larger part of planning policy than the integrated planning approaches of the past.

We look forward to reading the White Paper with the above considerations included.

by

David Holland

Bachelor of App. Sc. Environmental Planning,

Grad. Dip. Environmental Management

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Transport for NSW – Submission by David Holland regarding the Discussion paper on Long Term Transport Planning for NSW

15 May

As an advocate for both adaptive thinking and the Environment the Habitat Association for Arts and Environment has included the latest publication by one of its members, David Holland, on transport planning for New South Wales.

For those who are surfing the web from outside of Australia, New South Wales is arguably the most populous State in Australia and has a large economy in Australian terms.

This means that transport planning in New South Wales (NSW) is pivotal to the future success of that economy and the well being of the residents and workers of the State.

We may even go as far as to say that without a solid strategy for the future and new co-operation between the various transport agencies, NSW is poised to produce more transport bottlenecks which will affect the states future prosperity. The submission outline three themes that Mr. Holland feels are important for the way forward. They are sustainability, security and reliability.

The submission not only looks at very practical aspects of providing a sustainable public transport system, but also sustainable ways to operate transport systems into the future. This is highlighted in the approach related to handling freight. The submission proposes a logical but revolutional way to handle freight service between regions and between other Australian States.

The use of renewable energy in the rail system is touched on as a way for the State to meet renewable energy targets.

The Central Coast of NSW is referred to in much of the submission. David believes that regional Australia is often left out of detailed transport planning processes because of the assumption that all commuting, as has been traditionally the case, is flowing to and from the Sydney metropolitan areas. With the slow but steady improvement of job opportunities in the regions, more and more commuting is being done intra-regionally. This means that public transport services should not only accommodate this trend but transport planning should drive this trend, providing appropriate infrastructure to give greater opportunity for regional investment in the growing regional economic powerhouses of the Illawarra, the Central Coast, the far west of Sydney around Penrith and the Blue Mountains, and the south west of Sydney around Campbelltown.

To Read More follow this link>:

Local Government Precinct Committees and Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) Based Urban Planning – Written by Dr. Ray Rauscher

5 Apr

First published under the School of Environment and Life Sciences, Faulty of Science and Information Technology, The University of Newcastle,  Ourimbah Campus, NSW, Australia, 13th June 2010

(Only to be copied or circulated with the permission of the author.)

To Contact: Dr. Rauscher at: (ray.r@idl.net.au)

Abstract

This paper outlines the author’s research to date on incorporating ecologically sustainable development (ESD) based urban planning within the aims of Local Government Precinct Committees. The paper explores the history of Precinct Committees, particularly the role of place management as a foundation for precinct committees. The structure and operation of Precinct Committees within the Greater Metropolitan Region (GMR) of Sydney/Central Coast/Lower Hunter/Illawarra in the State of New South Wales (NSW) is examined. Planning tools such as NSW New Planning System and Agenda 21 (UN 1993) are examined for their relevance to ESD based planning at the precinct level. The Lakes Precinct (Wyong Shire) is taken as a case study of a precinct in an urbanising area within a growth centre region (Central Coast).

Introduction

Local Government Authorities (LGAs) and State governments are faced with prospects of adopting governance procedures to incorporate Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) within their urban planning. There is thus an opportunity for community precinct committees (PCs) to play a role in this ESD challenge.

This paper looks at PCs within the Greater Metropolitan Region of Sydney/Central Coast/Lower Hunter/Illawarra. Wyong Shire is chosen as a case study area because of its population growth and Wyong Council’s trialling PCs from 1995 onwards. The paper examines:

  • Theory of Place Management
  • Precinct Committees and ESD Based Urban Planning
  • Lakes Precinct Committee Case Study

Theory of Place Management 

PCs have developed from a discipline of place management. Place management is a community development process that places reliance on the community to solve local problems and promote healthy communities. A number of New South Wales (NSW) LGAs and the State government have applied place management to resolve social, economic and environmental questions. Place management as a community development and planning tool has been gaining in application over the last twenty years in Australia and overseas. David Crofts stresses the importance of understanding the operational parameters of place management (Crofts 1998)1. Finally, the publication Unequal in Life, (Jesuits 1999)2 highlights the need for increased place management programs. The report highlighted the needs for place management in disadvantaged parts of Australian inner and outer city areas.

There are a range of place management applications across the Greater Metropolitan Region and Regional NSW. The major categories of place management and examples in practice can be summarised under the headings: Community Renewal; Community Intervention; New Release Area Community Development Programs; Main Street and Town Centre Renewal; Public Housing Estate Renewal; and, LGA Strategic Plans. Each of these is now examined in more detail.

The NSW Community Renewal program has been operating in a number of LGAs under the Premiers Department since 1995. The State government launched a 3 year ($7m. budget) community renewal program in Redfern/Waterloo in 2002 (called the Redfern/Waterloo Partnership) (RWP). The RWP program (continues in 2006) provides programs in social welfare and community development. The physical planning program of RWP was transferred to and expanded under the Redfern/Waterloo Authority in 2004. The Authority program includes: master planning of areas such as Redfern CBD; the redevelopment of the Redfern Aboriginal Housing Corporation’s land in Eveleigh/Caroline Streets; and, strategic planning of Redfern/Eveleigh/Darlington (RED).

Besides the RWP program, the State had earlier proposed in 1999 a community renewal program in selected Newcastle and Lake Macquarie City disadvantaged areas. The program as applied in the Hunter is called Hunter Community Renewal Scheme (Premiers Department 1999). The scheme utilises place management within suburban areas with high public housing content such as Windale and Booragul. On initiating this program the State government stated the program would be extended to Newcastle City inner city areas of Islington, Tighes Hill, Wickham, Carrington and Hamilton South. Some of the challenges of these latter areas stem from: inner city area high transient population; land use redevelopment to higher densities forcing relocation of residents; and, relocation of employment out of the inner city.

In addition to community renewal, LGAs and the State government have initiated a number of community intervention programs. An early example of community intervention was the City of Sydney City’s3 of Kings Cross program. In this instance a place manager was employed to address strategic issues facing Kings Cross. The place management programs included a ‘whole of agency’ delivery of services and coordination/consultation on community issues. Outcomes of that program were the creation of a safety coordination program, reclaiming of unsafe streets and expansion of the harm minimisation drug prevention program.

The third avenue of place management is new release area community development programs. Many Sydney outer suburbs contain greenfield new release areas within growth LGAs such as: Penrith, Liverpool, Baulkham Hills, Blacktown, Wyong, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle and Wollongong. Many of these release areas have experienced high social, economic and infrastructure needs. The Jesuit study, cited earlier, illustrates the urban disparities that exist in many of these Greater Metropolitan Region centres. In some instances new release area place management programs that have been instigated in addressing these needs.

In contrast to release area place management programs there are main street and town centre renewal programs. These programs include: main street revival; town centre strategies; and, area improvement programs. The NSW government’s Main Street Program (Department of State and Regional Development) (DSRD) assists downtown businesses to improve services, strengthen local economies, and improve community spirit and locality image. Some of the Main Street programs utilising place management techniques within the Central Coast/Newcastle area include: Wyong, Gosford, Toukley, Ettalong, Woy Woy, Wallsend, Hamilton, New Lambton and Mayfield, Newcastle West, Newcastle East and Newcastle Darby St. Finally, advancing Main Street and town centre programs requires the adoption of planning strategies. Examples of these include: the Wyong Town Centre Strategy (Wyong 2000)4, Woy Woy Vision Plan (WWVP 2002)5, and, Gosford City Downtown Strategy (GCC 2005). Finally, the State initiated the Area Improvement Program6 in 1998 to assist CBDs and town centres to plan strategically.

In addition to the above programs, the State government has also established place management programs within public housing estates in the GMR and Regional NSW. One of these programs at Claymore in the Campbelltown District has been running for several years (1998-present). The program has established community gardens, improved social services and expanded recreation opportunities. Recent programs from 2003 have embraced whole scale renewal such as in several South West Sydney suburbs and regional centres such as Dubbo. The relocation of residents and the building of new housing areas have created challenges for the State.

In all of the above place management examples it has been imperative that local councils formulate the basis of programs through strategic plans. One strategic planning model is contained in the Parramatta City Outcomes Program (PCC 2000). That program is detailed in the Parramatta Regional Environment Plan (PREP) (PCC 2000), a blue print for place management to 2021. This plan contains action plans in partnership between the City and the State (i.e. projects nominated to receive State/Commonwealth funding). The Parramatta City’s goal is “Parramatta will be a vibrant, cosmopolitan and sustainable city” (PCC 2000). The council states that its place management approach will seek to build communities and community capital, including through citizen based participatory planning and design.” (Parramatta CC 2000). Finally, key statements of Parramatta Council reflecting place management within the Council’s strategic planning include: neighbourhood place management7; urban sprawl8; community capital9; outcomes group10; and accountability11.

Precinct Committees and ESD Based Urban Planning

It was apparent in the NSW State elections in March 2003 that environmental and urban development issues dominated the debate. Given lessons learned from the 1990s and early 2000s one of the challenges now facing LGAs and the State government is how to further engage residents in applying ESD based urban planning. To start with, the State government has embarked on reforming its planning approach through the creation of new planning and environmental legislation and establishing Basix (water/energy/climate impact reduction programs). Many LGAs in NSW have responded through establishing ESD based urban planning procedures. A sample of several LGA’s recent experiences in this area is detailed below.

Port Stephens Council (PSC) adopted the PC system in the early ‘90s after lengthy community consultation. There are over a dozen PCs and all come under the document ‘Precinct Committees – A General Guide’ (PSC 1990)12. The council also established a Sustainable Planning Department in the late 1990s to expand the application of ESD based urban planning. Contrasting with Penrith, from the 1980’s Liverpool Council serviced up to 19 PCs through a Precinct System Manager. In 1997 the PC system evolved into a Neighbourhood Forum System13. In early 1998 Fairfield City Council (FCC) decided to review its overall strategies and soon afterwards “introduced an innovative place management model that recognises the unique character of place and systems within the City” (Role of Local Government in Places Report (FCC ’98)14. The model was supported by a new organisational structure.

After the 1980 LG elections North Sydney Council (NSC) adopted a series of policies including a formal public involvement program known as the Precincts System. This eventually made the Council “possibly the most advanced model of open government that exists in Australia” (Mayoral Minute No.133, 2/10/87). A report on Council’s precinct system is contained in Public Participation and Direct Democracy in North Sydney Municipality (NSC 1990)15.

There are two additional councils that embraced PCs in the 1980s. Waverly Council commenced the Precincts system in 1988. A Community Precincts Liaison Officer and Administrative Staff serviced the PCs. Council noted in 1992 that the council was committed to resident participation in decision making (SMH 3/1992 advert for PCs Liaison Officer). Gosford Council also initiated a precinct system commencing in the 1980s, including the provision of a Community Liaison Officer. Council retracted its PCs program in the mid-1990s. A reflection, however, on the importance of PCs is contained in Council’s strategic plan program, which commenced in the year 2000. This program was designed to encourage formal citizen input into the planning system (ref. Gosford Strategic Plan 2001-2006, GCC 2002). Another Gosford Council planning tool as introduced in 2001 is called Character Plans and involves Council looking more closely at communities’ physical structures and environmental surrounds. These character plans illustrate to residents the natural assets that their localities possess and how these assets can be preserved or measured against development options.

With an understanding of PCs and other community participation programs many councils and the Sate government are now investigating the means of incorporating ESD based local area planning. A number of community associations and local chambers of commerce working with local councils have put together local area strategic plans. At the State level, the Draft Plan First (Planning NSW 2002) was a State initiative that was proposed to provide the means under Part 3 of the NSW EPA Act to improve coordinated planning at State, regional and LGA levels. The Plan First program was to give LGAs greater incentive to adopt ESD based local area plans. Taking up this challenge, Lake Macquarie City Council adopted several local plans under its LEP 2003 and Lake Macquarie City 2020 Strategy Plan (LMCC 2003). Finally, the State in 2003 reviewed a number of planning policies, including Plan First which was never fully implemented. By 2005 the State issued guidelines requiring all councils to produce new LGA wide LEPs over a 3-5 year period.

Lakes Precinct Committee Case Study

Wyong Shire, 100 km north of Sydney, is within the growth areas of the Central Coast. The shire population increased from 35,000 in 1978 to 143, 393 in June 2005 (ABS). There is a diverse collection of land uses ranging from the rural Wyong Valleys to the tourist dominated Entrance Peninsula. There are over 30 suburbs and over 100 localities within those localities in Wyong Shire. The character of these localities varies significantly in physical and social profiles. Over half the localities in Wyong Shire did not exist 25 years ago, reflecting the rapid growth. Issues of community health, land use planning, job creation and conservation within localities are of increasing concern to residents, Wyong Council and State authorities. Council’s concern culminated calling a Population, Infrastructure and Services Summit (held October 2006).

The subject of PCs in Wyong started in 1990 when a North Sydney PC representative addressed the Wyong community on the history of the precinct system in North Sydney. Nine Wyong Shire local civic group delegates addressed Council about the value of PCs in late May 1991, including: San Remo, Wyong, Warnervale, Dooralong, Budgewoi, Mannering Park, Lake Munmorah, Norah head and Bateau Bay (Wyong Advocate 6/6/91). It was this presentation to Council that led to further discussions and eventually to the adoption of the precinct system by Council.

Over the next 4 years various considerations for a precinct system were discussed before Wyong Council. Finally, in 1995 that Council resolved to establish a precinct system. The present PCs include: Lakes, Ourimbah, Wattanobbi/Warnervale, The Entrance, Lake Munmorah/Chain Valley Bay, Bateau Bay/Killarney Vale, Wallarah North, and Gwandalan/Summerland Point. The Lakes PC over its 11 year history has been trying to embrace ESD based urban planning principles based on Agenda 21. The Lakes PC has been involved in making submissions under ESD principles on a number of development and local government management plans. We now examine a sample of these plans, including: Cadonia Road, Tuggerawong aged retirement units; Kooindah, Wyong, tourist resort/residential complex; residential high-rise, Mardi; Pollack Av., SEPP 5; and, Wyong Council Management Plans.

The Cadonia Rd., Tuggerawong, aged retirement units involved a development proposal for an aged retirement unit complex. The proposed site appeared to be flood liable and part of a primary drainage system. The applicant for the project responded to the refusal by Council by appealing to the NSW Land and Environment Court. The Lakes PC appeared in Court after having made a substantial submission based on ESD principles and supporting the Council refusal. The appeal was lost and Council’s actions upheld.

A second example of Lakes PC actions involved the Kooindah Tourist Resort proposal, a major tourist complex and residential development (200+ homes) on a sensitive site in proximity to wetlands, flood plains and the Wyong River. The Lakes PC was involved in public information meetings and conducted research on key ESD environment issues (i.e. acid sulphate soils and drainage). Many of the Lakes PC recommendations within a submission to Council were eventually incorporated within Council’s conditions of approval.

A proposal for residential high-rise (9 and 11 stories) rezoning at Mardi (part of the Tuggerah District Centre) required the Lakes PC to comment (given regional significance). The PC conducted site meetings and applied ESD criteria to the proposal. The PC then submitted a report on the development proposal stating the density of development was counter to ESD principles (i.e. scale, visual, bulk, social, landscape, ridgeline, etc.). Council, by late 2006, was still considering the proposed re- zoning.

Developers had the ability in the 1990s and early 2000s to create aged unit complexes on parcels of land not suitable for that purpose using the State Environmental Planning Policy 5 (SEPP5). The policy in its implementation raised substantial questions about ESD principles being overridden. The Lakes PC studied one such SEPP proposal to rezone a site in Pollock Av, Wyong under SEPP 5. In applying ESD principles the precinct committee was able to illustrate any rezoning for aged care at that location was inappropriate. The proposal was not approved and by 2004 the State scrapped SEPP 5, in favour of a more comprehensive Seniors Living Policy.

Finally, the Lakes PC attends each annual public briefing on the Wyong Shire Management Plan and prepares a submission based on ESD practices. While to date the Wyong Council Management Plans contain few references to ESD principles, there have been increasing references to ESD within each Management Plan. Lakes PC, however, continues to submit to Council ways of adopting wider ESD based urban planning approaches in its Management Plan decision process.

Conclusions

Some conclusions that can be reached from the above research. Firstly, Councils need to understand the theory of place management, precinct committees and ESD based urban planning as tools for better planning. Secondly, the role of PCs in ESD based urban planning needs to be understood by Councils and the State government. Thirdly, PCs need to be adequately resourced to understand the implications of ESD based urban planning. Finally, place management programs and PCs in particular can play major parts in the community participation process under LG and the State.

References

Crofts David, Place Management in Newcastle City, Australian Planner, Vol. 35 No 1, 1998, Sydney 1998.

DIPNR, Review of Plan First, Sydney 2003

Fairfield City Council, Role of Local Government in Places Report, FCC 1998

Gosford City Council, Gosford Strategic Plan 2001-2006, Gosford 2002

Gosford City Council, Gosford City Downtown Strategy, Gosford 2005

Ignatius Centre, Unequal in Life, Melbourne 1999

Lake Macquarie City Council, Lake Macquarie 2020 Plan, LMC 1999

Liverpool City Council, Neighbourhood Services Manager, LCC 21/5/01

Nagel Consulting PL, Organisation Audit/Review Report, Wyong Shire Council, Wyong Feb. 2001

Newcastle City Council Newcastle City Urban Strategy, 1998, Newcastle 1998

North Sydney Council, Public Participation and Direct Democracy in North Sydney Municipality, North Sydney 199016.

Parramatta City Council, Parramatta City Outcomes Program, Parramatta 2000

Parramatta City Council, Parramatta City Strategic Direction, Draft Management Plan, 2001-2004, Parramatta 2004

Parramatta City Council, Parramatta Regional Environment Plan, Parramatta, 2000

Planning NSW, NSW Area Improvement Program 2002, Sydney 2002

Planning NSW Plan First 2002 (review of Part 3 (Plan Making) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment (EPA) Act 1979, Sydney 1999

Port Stephens Council, Precinct Committees – A General Guide, Nelson Bay 1990 Precinct Committees – A General Guide’ PSC 1990.

Premiers Department and DOCS, Hunter Community Renewal Scheme, Sydney 1999

United Nations, Agenda 21, New York, 1993

Woy Woy Chamber of Commerce, Woy Woy Vision Plan, Woy Woy 2002

Wyong Advocate, Precinct Committees for Wyong Shire, Wyong 6/6/91

Wyong Chamber of Commerce, (Wyong District Strategic Plan, Wyong 1996)

Wyong Chamber of Commerce, Wyong/Tuggerah District Strategic Plan Update, Wyong 2000.

Wyong Council, Wyong Town Centre Strategy (2000), Wyong 2000

________________________________________________________________________________

1 “Place management incorporates the principles of sustainable communities as globally defined under United Nations Agenda 21. Place management aims to encompass the input of all groups and works within an integrated planning framework under charters and memorandums of understanding. Finally, place management can be defined as a holistic outlook, outcome directed and dependent on local ownership.” (Crofts 1998)

2 The Jesuits argue that the resources required to meet disparities between localities have been inadequate to date and that place management is an important tool for addressing these needs. The study highlighted social need by postcode districts in Victoria and NSW. Many inner city areas of Sydney and Newcastle registered as high need areas under the Study.

3 Before 8th May 2003 the area was under the City of South Sydney (amalgamated on that date into the City of Sydney).

4 The Strategy contains approaches for upgrading Wyong Town. The Wyong/Tuggerah Chamber of Commerce submitted to Wyong Council the Chamber’s Wyong District Strategic Plan (WCC 1996) and Wyong/Tuggerah District Strategic Plan Update (WCC 2000).

5 The plan is a blueprint for future strategic development of the Woy Woy CBD and Woy Woy Peninsula in general.

6 An example of an area improvement program is the Strathfield/Burwood/Ashfield redevelopment program where three LGAs are developing improvement programs.

7 “Neighbourhood Place Management shall seek to engender community spirit and create communities that have safe and equal access to health, affordable housing, employment opportunities, artistic and cultural expression, recreation, leisure and other services.” (PCC 2004).

8 “We want to push back the spread of placeless sprawl, environmental deterioration and the erosion of society’s built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.” (Ref. Parramatta City Council Application for Special Variation to General Income) (PCC, 2000).

9 “Our place management approach will seek to build communities and community capital, including through citizen based participatory planning and design.” (PCC 2000)

10 “The Outcomes Group is to ensure Council’s activities focus on and deliver the council’s strategic outcomes.” (PCC 2000).

11 “Parramatta’s place managers will be accountable to assessing the needs of places or systems and ensuring that long-term solutions are found for problems that arise.” (PCC 2000).

12 “Council is certain that this open system of democracy will provide a means of drawing both residents and Council together. It allows people to feel they have a more direct influence within their Council. The objective is to enable every resident access to input into the decision making process.” (PSC 1990)

13 The Council concluded “it was difficult to effectively resource and support the PCs” (Neighbourhood Services Manager, LCC 21/5/01). There are currently four Neighbourhood Forums in place at Liverpool under the ‘Neighbourhood System’. The Forums get administrative support from Neighbourhood Managers responsible for districts.

14 Council created a new ‘City Outcomes Department’ containing place management staff with priority setting and service specification responsibility. The 1998 Report emphasised that place management can be designated in geographic terms, system terms or in relation to shared issues or opportunities. In FCC a range of place management programs is being used as outlined in the FCC ’99 Report as follows: main street program at Cabramatta and Fairfield Downtowns have clear geographic boundaries, targeted issues and budgets; and, Cabramatta place management is a joint project between Council and Premiers Dept. FCC area is divided into five places along the lines of suburbs or common issues. ‘Places’ include a new release area, an industrial estate and an open space system. The Place Manager provides a single point of contact within Council for opportunities or issues about the place. The final FCC place management policy is the creation of the positions of Suburb Support Officers (SSOs). Each staff member within the City Outcomes Dept. has adopted a suburb. The staff member visits ‘his/her suburb’ and collects information about its appearance in strategic planning terms and nominates works believed important. SSOs work closely with the place manager accountable for that area. The 1998 Report concluded that constant reflection on the results of place management allows Council to fine tune the models and adjust the systems. These are designed to focus on outcomes, results, and accountability.

15 Council received the Local Government Bluet Award the next year based among other things on the creation of the Precinct System. By 1977 various Aldermen saw the precinct system in competition with their own roles and objected to the way some Precincts demanded more than an advisory role. This led to the disbanding of the PCs. After a survey of public meetings however in 1980 Council reinstated the precinct system with a network of 25 PCs. Council employed two staff, a Precincts Coordination and an Admin Assistant to resource the precinct system.

16 Council received the Local Government Bluett Award the next year based among other things on the creation of the Precinct System. By 1977 various Aldermen saw the precinct system in competition with their own roles and objected to the way some Precincts demanded more than an advisory role. This led to the disbanding of the PCs. After a survey of public meetings however in 1980 Council reinstated the precinct system with a network of 25 PCs. Council employed two staff, a Precincts Coordination and an Admin Assistant to resource the precinct system.

Submission on the draft Central Coast Transport Strategy 2006 – 31

19 Aug

This submission on the draft Central Coast Transport Strategy (herein referred to as the dCCTS or the Strategy) is laid out under the following headings:

  1. Structure of the dCCTS
  2. Issues, Concerns and Questions
  3. Connections between Statistical Data and Works
  4. A Complete Strategy for the Central Coast
  5. A Proposed Structure for the Strategy

1.0 Structure of the dCCTS

The dCCTS is divided into three time frames.

  1. Current to 2012
  2. Medium term 2012 to 2020
  3. Long Term 2020 to 2036

Each timeframe addresses: Rail, Road, Buses, Bicycles, Walking, Freight, Transport Interchanges, Car Parking and Governance.

The dCCTS lists projects in order of:

1. Recently completed or soon to be commenced;

2. Long term.

There is some reader confusion between these two project categories. For example, the $300 million roads funding is noted as a future project, though these funds are mostly already expended on the nominated projects. Also, the new bus routes as announced by the State were finalised with the commencement of new schedules on 8 Nov 2010.

2.0 Issues, Concerns and Questions

There are a number of issues, concerns and questions that must be raised.

2.1  Central Coast Bus Review

I see the dCCTS as needing to compliment the recent Central Coast Bus Review (under the Outer Metropolitan Bus Review) process. I draw attention to the submission on bus transport needs compiled by myself on behalf of the CEN.

Ref. (Bus review Central Coast 2009)

This submission highlighted the bus needs of the North Wyong District. The dCCTS heralds the result of the outer metropolitan bus review, but many of the North Wyong services (i.e. Lakehaven) as requested in the submission have not been incorporated within the new bus timetables (8 Nov 2010). The dCCTS states that a North Wyong Bus Servicing Strategy is to be prepared between 2012 and 2020. This seems to be yet another delay for the North Wyong area to get a comprehensive plan established. (dCCTS ref p32, 47).

Additional issues associated with the new expanded services for North Wyong extolled in the Strategy, are in contradiction to the new timetable which run the last services generally earlier in the evening than the old timetable to certain destinations north of Lakehaven and in particularly on the weekends. Finally, new peak hour services are ending their runs later at Morisset and Wyee stations than from Lakehaven, thus disadvantaging workers returning home from Tuggerah in comparison to these afore-mentioned locations.

2.2 More Services Needed for North Wyong

The claim in the strategy is that more services run past the Wyong Hospital. This is true except on Sundays where there are now fewer services to the hospital and services finish several hours earlier. Saturday services are not much better even though services between Tuggerah and Lakehaven have increased dramatically on Weekends (ref. p. 29 dCCTS).

2.3 Contributions from Key Stakeholders

I express concern in the comment that Transport NSW will allow contributions from key stakeholders when assessing the needs of the community for additional services. Can the State define ‘key stakeholders’ (dCCTS ref. p31)?

2.4 Bus Corridors

No Strategic Bus Corridors were identified in the North Wyong Area. There is a need, however, for these services, as follows (not exhaustive):

  • Lakehaven to Gosford via Bateau Bay
  • Lakehaven to Charlestown via Swansea
  • Lakehaven to Gosford Via Tuggerah
  • Tuggerah to The North Entrance via Mingara

2.5 Metro Bus

The Metro Bus is a Sydney program and would thus need more explanation of its introduction to the Central Coast (ref p31 dCCRTS). The Strategy suggests that it should be expanded to the Central Coast. If Metro Bus is to become the dedicated bus transit ways on the Central Coast, I suggest The Entrance and the Tuggerah transport interchanges should come under any Metro Bus program and other Central Coast interchanges should be investigated (dCCTS ref p32).

2.6 Fast Rail and Freight Services

The strategy mentions long-term planning for a fast rail and plans for a loop rail for freight services though there are no references to any improvements to the current level of access to the rail. The one exception here is, the addition of the Warnervale township station. The fast train and freight loop installations on the Central Coast will take pressure off the existing rail line, thus allowing an expanded system to meet the Central Coast’s growing population (ref p33, 38). CEN has submitted proposals to the State for two new stations, one at Blue Haven and the other at the southern end of the Coast’s rail line west of Woy Woy Station. This will give quicker access to rail for about 20,000 people by the year 2036.

Web Reference:

Planning Public Transport Structures in North Wyong: A Proposal for a Blue Haven Bus and Train Interchange

2.7 Parking Trains

The outer metropolitan rail carriages (called Oscars), currently park in Wyong. With the advent of the proposed Warnervale township station, the dCCTS proposes that these cars be parked at Warnervale. Comments are made that this arrangement will service the new township in morning peaks and again in the evening peak period. I suggest caution in parking trains in expanding urban areas (ref recent noise problems at Gosford station). This occurrence could be avoided by accommodating rail carriages parking areas at the proposed Blue Haven station. ( See Above Web Reference). A Blue Haven station could subsequently be provided as the population in this district grew (ref p29).

2.8 Local Government Transport Plans

The dCCTS suggests that local government (LG) should be involved in preparing local transport plans, but recognises that currently no legislative mechanism allows councils to do this. In earlier submissions to the State, CEN has stated the importance of LG completing transport plans as part of councils’ overall infrastructure planning. The dCCTS suggests a time frame for this type of planning post 2020; however the need exists at present (ref p49).

2.8 Minor Towns not Addressed in Strategy

Although many of the destination towns are considered in the strategy, smaller towns with some potential for population growth have been ignored.  These towns have the potential to accommodate green fields development in some cases, but more pertinent to the strategy they will be able to accommodate redevelopment at a higher density than present, thus creating an opportunity for more efficient public transport systems.

Higher Density potential urban areas:

Ourimbah, Toukley, The Entrance, Long Jetty, Bateau Bay, Budgewoi etc.

Greenfield potential development areas:

Wyee, Gwandalan, Chain Valley Bay, Nords Wharf, Catherine Hill Bay, Warnervale, Woongarrah, Wadalba, Doyalson etc.

2.9 Secure Bike Parking (Page 14)

It is questionable whether secure bike parking in all areas has been achieved. It is evident that bus interchanges in many shopping centres have not installed this kind of equipment for bus travellers. See Wyong Council’s On Road Bicycle and shared pathway Strategy.

2.10 Wyong town Centre (Page 24)

Wyong Town Centre and interchange has been identified as a growth centre.  This means that the integrity of the town’s function must be protected. I believes that without special and combined effort from a range of government agencies, the town will stagnate. As part of the $300 million flagged in this strategy, a road is planned to be renewed through the town. It is our assertion that if the road is pushed through the town, it will split the town from the transport precinct. We believe that the town will be left behind by developments at Warnervale and Tuggerah. We feel that the interchange and transport precinct at Wyong is the key to revitalise the town by providing both function and a sense of place in the town. The interchange should provide a nexus for the CBD and the Baker Street master plan developments.

2.11 Commitment to Provide Alternatives to Private Transport in North Wyong (page 24/25)

It is imperative to fulfil the commitment to provide alternatives to private transport on the Central Coast, especially North Wyong as a State growth focus.  As the population in North Wyong grows, private transport congestion will increase.  Outlying places like Gwandalan, Chain Valley Bay, Mannering Park and Nords Wharf must be provided with a bus service that will discourage residents from purchasing that second car and encouraging them to travel on public transport exclusively. These residents will increasingly be a major contributor to traffic on the Pacific Highway at Charmhaven for example.

2.12 Changing Demographic due to Climate Change

As outlined on page 28 of the Strategy the government’s key projects will (with population as a driver for more accessibility improvements to the transport network), improve productivity and economic competitiveness, and integrate with the existing transport network to contribute to environmental sustainability. However, has the Strategy considered the effects of climate change to demographic patterns beyond 2030?

2.13 North Wyong Public Transport Links to Newcastle

I would encourage the preparation of a North Wyong bus Servicing Strategy and would like to contribute to this process in its initial stages through my involvement in the CEN. One of the priorities for this connection would be a bus service to Charlestown Square, providing both commuting and shopping opportunities.

2.14 Promoting Public transport use

One of the Strategy aims is to reduce the population’s reliance on the car and encourage the use of public transport. However the Strategy does not show a process by which this could be achieved. The announcement of a separate study and program to achieve this would help the Transport Strategy show that it had addressed this issue. (dCCTS p.5)

3.0 Connections Between Statistical Data and works

3.1 The dCCTS quotes a range of statistical data.

Facts like:

Travel Patterns (p.16):

1.9% decrease in trips during weekdays;

9.5% increase in trips during weekend days and

Bus travel remains the same in 2008-10 while car travel has increased 3%

3.2 What assumptions could be made from the nexus of these facts?

One hypothesis is that there may be a lack of buses on the road and this is increasingly so on weekend.

Other examples of the nexus follow.

a. Central Coast residents drove 30 km more per day than 5 years ago (p16).

Why is this? Could it be due to the urbanisation of the Central Coast over a larger area, thereby requiring residents to travel further to work and shop etc? What transport conclusion could this present? One suggestion from this data could be that the Central Coast needs better connectivity or transport, via road, rail and bus between the north and south of the Central Coast.

b. Journeys to work via public transport have dropped by 1% over the last 7 years (p17); and 86% travel by train while only 14% by bus.

What could be gleaned from this data? It seems that cars are used to commute to stations in most cases. To reduce the number of cars on the road, the drivers of these cars should be targeted to catch the bus. What strategies could be implemented?

c. Fewer people travel outside the Central Coast for work (down 1.6% since 2001).

This data shows that more people are finding work on the Central Coast and that the inter-Central Coast transport trend is increasing.  This adds more weight to the need for more connectivity of transport within the Central Coast. If the government wishes to reduce individual carbon footprints and reduce congestion on the road then increased investment in public transport is essential.

d. The population is aging (p.24/25). The strategy suggests more home and community care programs. In addition easier access to bus transport must also become a priority.  This will mean low floor buses, kerb heights appropriate at every bus stop; shelters at every bus stop; proper lighting. Roads surfaces on bus routes maintained to ensure smooth travel and smooth stopping at bus stops.

4.0 A Complete Strategy for the Central Coast

The Strategy announces a range of initiatives by the State government to enhance the Central Coasts transport systems.  However the local councils have not been considered in this strategy, only to say that local councils must get involved after 2020 in transport planning.

Councils, although not commissioned to provide bus and train services are by far the biggest provider of roads infrastructure on the Central Coast. As such they are charged with the maintenance of many roads that buses traverse. They provide infrastructure for the bus services in the form of bus shelters and are to maintain the streets free of obstacles such as overgrown trees etc.

Council has been working on planning documents that show plans for future development and future population growth nodes. Although much of the data within this Strategy document has come through the Bureau of Statistics, more precise information should have been sought to accurately assess public transport needs particularly in the North Wyong Area (e.g. Toukley Master Plan and Council population projections).

The Strategy should consider all aspects and involvements relating to transport, not just projects that the State agencies have provided or will provide. Money that has or could be provided to councils and community transport to provide components of better transport should be considered in the strategy. For example, road funding to Councils to provide and maintain road surfaces for heavy vehicles where bus routes exist should be considered.

5.0 A Proposed Structure for the Strategy

The strategy presents a vision and it outlines aims in the first few pages.  These aims are in the form of a narrative and could be put in point form to highlight the direction of the strategy.

Data is presented, however, as mentioned in point 3 this data is not clearly connected to decisions and nominated projects.

Projects are listed over three time frames, leaving the last time frame a little nebulas from 2020 to 2036. This time frame should be more detailed given the expectations of the residents of the Central Coast.  The Strategy needs to be more than a works program. It needs to be a vision for the future of the Central Coast residents and a forward planning document for successive governments’ budgets.

The Strategy rightly considers the preparing of a subsequent more detailed strategy called the ‘North Wyong Bus Servicing Strategy’. This is one of a number of outcomes of the Strategy. The strategy should be an empowering document and it should herald a number of outcomes.

Finally, under the section of governance, the Strategy announces that the strategy will be reviewed in a five year period. I would encourage the government to continue to monitor the factors relating to the Strategy within this 5 year period and incorporate new information into the next revision of the plan.

Submission By

David Holland

B.A.S. Environmental Planning

Grad. Dip. Environmental Management

Member of the Sustainable Transport Committee of CEN

Member of the Community Environment Network (CEN)