Saturday, August 02, 2008

Inquiry needed



23 February 2008

Save Our Suburbs demands inquiry into Government Planning Policies

The staggering revelations about developer donations inevitably lead to questions about the NSW Government’s high-density policies (termed “urban consolidation”). The Department of Planning has

never provided credible justification for this policy which provides huge profits for high-rise developers who in turn make large political donations.

It is undeniable and well documented that high-density is detrimental to the public good [1]. Greenhouse gas emissions per person are greater in high-density [2]. The policy overloads infrastructure. Choking traffic congestion and longer travel times result. Sewers overflow, electricity supply is at breaking point and there are chronic water shortages. High-density policies create land shortages that result in unaffordable housing. Concrete, tiles and bitumen replace trees, gardens and public open space. Sustainablility is adversely affected.

Current media coverage reveals the huge donations high-density developers make to the political parties. What is not yet being publicised is the long history the Department of Planning has of working closely with developers. The Department demands that councils submit strategies for high-density (under threat of taking away their planning powers) and developers who subsequently stand to benefit are actively involved in the assessment of these strategies [3]. Under these circumstances, a good example from the top state planning department is not being set for councils. Proposed changes to the planning system, involving state appointed planning panels, are unlikely to improve the situation.

It needs to be questioned why a policy detrimental to the public interest is being forced onto communities, as this policy provides huge profits [4] to organisations that are actively participating in its formulation and implementation and which make massive donations to the major political parties. Save Our Suburbs demands an Upper House inquiry into the motivation for this policy.

Further information: Tony Recsei 02 9487 2061


[1] See

[2] See

[3] For example as at 16 November 2000 the Departmernt’s “Residential Strategy Advisory Committee” consisted of:

John Collins (DUAP Assistant Director-General and Chair)

Peter Woods (Mayor of Concord and President of the Local Government Association)

Bruce McDonald (Director of Strategic and Economic Planning, Penrith Council)

Ian Costley (Mirvac Group - standing in for Robert Hamilton, the General Manager)

Neil Bird, (Urban Pacific Ltd)

Peter Lean (Urban Development Institute of Australia).

After this situation was publicly revealed on the ABC Stateline program of 30/03/01 the committee was replaced with a less obvious method of involving developers in the planning process but the overall effect is the same.

[4] In a letter to the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning dated 17 November 2000, Ian Costley, Development Director of Mirvac reports on the financial viability of development that would result if a residential strategy submitted by Ku-ring-gai Council were to be accepted by the Department. In this report internal rates of return of up to 128% on Mirvac’s equity investment were considered “not viable”.

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