Plan­ning staff woes

Short­age hits new statewide scheme

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - DAVID BENIUK

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.

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