Image for Removing the democratic right of the people of Tasmania to influence planning approvals

The Editor
Tasmanian Times
By email:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Dear Sir,

I am writing to express my concerns about the government proposals to create a new planning system for Tasmania.

It was obvious from statements by the wealthy Property Owners Association that the real idea of the planning reform is to remove the democratic right of the people of Tasmania to influence planning approvals.

At the present time if somebody plans to build a tannery next to your home you can complain to the council and it is probably against their planning scheme.

If we get a new centralised planning scheme designed to benefit people who want to develop property and nobody else then that right is going to disappear.

The reference to removing political interferences are a reference to removing the rights of local people to lobby aldermen against developments that are contrary to the public interest or the interest of the local people.

While obviously it makes sense to have a pro forma planning scheme with the same definitions in it, it is clear that the real objective of the proposed uniform planning scheme is to remove any restraint from property development and as such ought to be vigorously opposed.

Yours faithfully,


• Andrew Ricketts in Comments: John Green is absolutely correct. This is an atrocity. However so far only a few people have woken up to the implications.

• Dr Rosemary Sandford, President, South Hobart Progression Association Inc.

Department of Justice
Office of Strategic Legislation and Policy
GPO Box 825
HOBART   TAS   7001

8th August, 2015

Re: Draft Land Use Planning and Approvals (Tasmanian Planning Scheme) Amendment Bill 2015

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Draft Land Use Planning and Approvals (Tasmanian Planning Scheme) Amendment Bill 2015.  The concerns of the South Hobart Progress Association Inc. (SHPA) relate principally, but not exclusively, to ensuring that due process and procedures are maintained.  The integrity of proper planning procedures and process is being gutted and, from a public perspective, it seems that process is being sacrificed to the vested interests if a narrow section of the community who do not represent the overwhelming majority of Tasmanians, for whom equity, accountability and transparency are fundamental to good governance and planning.  The proposed legislation is a retrograde step. This new legislation removes or reduces any watching brief by independent voices and advocates, like the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO). For the Minister to be both judge and jury is undemocratic and a blatant denial of natural justice.

The introduction of a state-wide planning scheme demonstrates limited understanding and a denial of, the many differences that distinguish Tasmania’s local communities from each other. Think of the differences between the rural hamlets of the NW and the Central Highlands and the larger metropolitan areas of Hobart. Communities and local government areas each has its own characteristics, identity, social networks and cohesion. What is appropriate in Sheffield, La Trobe, Dorset or Burnie, is not going to work in Kingborough or Hobart. A single, uniform/standardised template which might suit a capital city is not compatible with the planning, social and environmental needs of a small country town. This demonstrates a disappointing lack of respect for the views and lived experiences of local communities.

The SHPA has major concerns that the new legislation will give undue influence to the construction industry, the Tasmanian Property Council and well-heeled developers, and that consideration of the identity, experiences and opinions of local communities will, in effect, be eliminated from the planning process. Another denial of natural justice. It is a very backward step to give so much potential power to a single Minister, in this case, the Planning Minister, and to effectively eliminate any rights of appeal from the community, unless it can afford expensive legal representation.

What is required, is legislation that will be more even-handed in its approach to planning and development.  The pendulum has swung too far in favour of the developer in this self-serving piece of legislation

The Draft Land Use Planning and Approvals (Tasmanian Planning Scheme) Amendment Bill 2015 is an incomprehensible and unwieldy document. From my participation in 3 public meetings addressed by planning experts and lawyers, it was clear that even these experts were unable to make head nor tail of it.

The SHPA (Inc.) has major concerns about issues relating to height, density plot ratios (property rights over development) in the inner city residential zone of Hobart, as well as the City, proper, and details like front fence heights.  The draft legislation will result in a dilution of character and heritage values in our varied town and streetscapes across the suburbs and towns. It will lead to outcomes where one decision will create the opportunity for further loss of that social and heritage fabric that makes Tasmania such a drawcard for tourists on the heritage trail.  Unfortunately, the disaster will all be realised too late and be irreversible if this legislation is enacted in its current form.

One of the Government’s intentions is to reduce the time frame for assessing projects to twenty-one (21) days.  The SHPA (Inc.) considers this an unreasonably short time frame to allow often complex planning issues to be resolved.  It will lead to sub-standard planning outcomes which will rebound on the community in ways unanticipated by governments whose horizons seem constrained by the limited imaginations of their bureaucrats and advisers. This ‘one size fits all’ approach to planning is at odds with the findings of the tourism industry which emphasises that Tasmania’s uniqueness, its natural values and its small communities are what brings the tourists. If we become like any other Australian state, we will lose our marketing advantage. Why should visitors and international tourists pay the extra price to cross Bass Strait to visit a ‘bland and beige’ Tasmania that is just like home?

It is to be hoped that the fears currently circulating within local communities with regard to lack of inclusivity, transparency of process, denial of natural justice, and equity can be allayed to some extent.  The SHPA would prefer the present single, Tasmanian Planning Scheme is put on hold and a more participatory process and intelligible scheme(s) is developed. 

“The introduction of a state wide planning scheme is part of Government’s reforms for a fairer, faster, cheaper and simpler planning scheme” to quote from the website’s own copy.
The question the community is asking now is fairer, faster, cheaper and simpler for WHOM???  This legislation is draconian and undemocratic.

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Rosemary Sandford,
President, SHPA Inc.

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