Just months into the job, the newly minted New South Wales Planning Minister Anthony Roberts has torn up the nine guiding principles mooted by his predecessor Rob Stokes.
Stokes drew fire when he introduced the changes as he walked out the door of the Planning Office to take up the reins at Infrastructure, Cities and Public Transport late last year.
At the time, Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest described it as Rob Stokes “throwing confetti over his shoulder as he walks out the door” and slammed his planning principles as “utopian”.
Roberts has vowed to cut red tape, address the state’s housing supply crisis, and end “policy fatigue” weighing down the system.
The move to revoke the planning regime has received industry support from the such bodies as the UDIA and Urban Taskforce, but not everyone is a fan.
The NSW chapters of the Australian Insititute of Architects and Australian Institute of Landscape Architects have condemned the backflip, saying it would overturn sustainable planning principles.
AIA NSW president Laura Cockburn said it was a counterproductive decision from the NSW planning mininster.
“In the midst of our current flood and housing crises, why would a government choose to remove planning principles aimed at disaster resilience, and delivering affordable housing?” she said.
“This is a short-sighted decision that could have enduring negative impacts.
“Having a robust planning framework ensures our communities can thrive and grow with certainty.
“Constant changes from government will do nothing for community and business confidence, and will likely reduce the investment in affordable housing the minister says this backflip is aimed at.”
Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest applauded the swift change.
“This is a clear sign that the new minister is serious about delivering faster decisions and more homes rather than the ivory tower approach taken by the former minister, which was performing so poorly,” Forrest said.
“Minister Roberts has sent a clear message that he is serious about boosting housing supply. His decision to revoke the Ministerial Direction giving effect to the former minister’s Planning Principles explicitly states that any planning principles must help the delivery of more homes and the proposed principles by former minister Stokes were clearly not helping that cause.
“Planners were confused. Lawyers were aghast. Developers were exasperated. It is great to see this unwelcome initiative abandoned.”