Bid to remove council power
Push for consistent, efficient planning
A TASMANIAN real estate heavyweight says authority for planning decisions should be removed from local government and given to a new state department.
Hank Petrusma, a director of EIS Property and the founding chair of Common Ground, says a new state department of planning, development and the environment could operate through Service Tasmania.
“This would provide a consistent approach and remove the impediment of aldermen and councillors sometimes basing decisions on emotion and personal preference rather than compliance with the planning scheme,” Mr Petrusma said.
“This should also provide faster assessment and approval times, which can be painfully slow.”
He said if planning must stay with local government, one dedicated planner should be assigned to each proposal to streamline the process and ensure things do not grind to a halt because a worker is on leave.
“As things stand, the approval and handover process can come to a halt because a council officer is on holidays or unavailable,” he said.
“Developers run full-time businesses and costs don’t stop accumulating just because someone is on leave.”
Housing Minister Roger Jaensch said it was appropriate councils act as the planning authority for their respective municipal areas.
“The State Government is putting into place Australia’s first single, statewide planning scheme to provide unprecedented consistency and certainty to our planning system,” Mr Jaensch said. “The new statewide planning scheme will make land use and development fairer, simpler and clearer for all Tasmanians.”
Mr Petrusma said currently it could take many months, or even years, for developers behind small residential projects to get the go ahead.
“There is a reluctance to make decisions. There is a gross lack of resources in council planning departments. In many cases these small developers simply give up,” he said.
He said statutory time frames should be provided for development applications and building plans.