Planning staff woes
Shortage hits new statewide scheme
THE massive task of implementing the new statewide planning scheme is being made more difficult for councils by a shortage of qualified staff.
A nationwide shortage of experienced planners is hitting Tasmanian councils hard as they scramble to produce local guidelines for the key State Government policy.
Students are being snapped up before they complete their courses, while some councils are concerned about staff being poached.
“It is noticeable not only in our council but in other coun- cils that there is a shortage,” Derwent Valley Mayor Martyn Evans said.
“It may be to do with the local government award and private industry snapping up all the upcoming planners as well as the qualified ones.”
Mr Evans said the shortage would be a concern going forward as the region continued to grow, but it might provide an opportunity for more young people to work in the field.
The state’s 29 councils have been ordered to apply zones and codes of the much-vaunted Tasmanian Planning Scheme.
Draft provisions need to be submitted to the Tasmanian Planning Commission and then publicly exhibited for 60 days.
The commission will then provide final approval, allowing the statewide scheme to take effect.
No council had completed its local provisions schedules in August, despite the TPS being scheduled to take effect on July 1. It’s believed councils are still yet to complete the work.
Planning Institute of Australia Tasmanian representative Irene Duckett said the increased complexity of development applications to account for factors such as sealevel rise was driving demand for planners.
“There’s just a growing demand within councils for work that needs to be done, but also a growing demand in private practice as well,” Ms Duckett said.
“There is a growing demand and growing need for more complicated applications to have supporting reports prepared by planning consultants.”
Workforce planning guidelines prepared for Tasmania by the University of Technology, Sydney’s Centre for Local Government indicate a shortage of council planners, partly due to competition from other sectors.
The Local Government Association of Tasmania’s most recent workforce report found Tasmanian councils would have turned over more than half of their 2013 planning staff by 2019.
“It’s a bit like the aged-care sector, we will see a bit of a crisis at some point,” LGAT chief Katrena Stephenson said.
“We’re not there yet but we’re starting to plan for it.”
Help is on the way, with UTAS reporting a tripling of its numbers in planning core units over the past two years.
Planning Minister Peter Gutwein said there were an estimated 200 qualified planning staff in Tasmania.
Mr Gutwein said local provisions schedules were “progressing steadily” with the help of $300,000 from the State Government.