The Better Planning Network is a network of local communities, organisations and individuals striving to achieve a better planning system for NSW. The Better Planning Network is not affiliated with any political party and recognises that:

1. Community engagement in decision-making is essential at every stage of the planning and development process.

  • The opportunity for community input into decision-making must be available at both the early strategic planning phase and when individual developments are being assessed.
  • Governments must allow sufficient time, effort, trained staff and funding to ensure informed, genuine and best practice community engagement.
  • Planning and development-related information must be easily accessible on council websites, visualisation accurate and 3D modelling available wherever practical.
  • Every resident must be directly informed about the likely impact(s) of a plan or development application on their property and surrounds.
  • The use of code assessment must be limited to genuinely low risk and low impact development.
  • Merit appeal rights, including from third party objectors, must be available for all state significant development and infrastructure.
  • There must be a mechanism for the regular review of strategic plans, including informed and genuine community engagement in decision-making.  This must include an opportunity for local communities to be engaged in the review of existing local environment plans.
  • Existing methods of public participation must be enhanced and legally enforced in a Public Participation Charter.

2. Protecting our natural and cultural heritage is fundamental to the wellbeing of our communities.

  • Ecologically Sustainable Development, not economic development, must be the key driver of all planning and development in NSW.
  • Environmentally-sensitive areas and cultural heritage must be identified and protected at the early strategic stage.
  • The challenges of climate change must be addressed.  This includes protection and enhancement of all green corridors as these reduce atmospheric levels of Carbon Dioxide, provide important wildlife corridors and contribute health benefits to communities.
  • Food and water security must be addressed by ensuring that prime agricultural land and catchment areas are out of bounds to development, coal seam gas exploration and minerals extraction.
  • The cumulative impacts of development on our environment and heritage system must be considered, monitored and mitigated where necessary.
  • Existing environmental protections, including those contained within State Environment Planning Policies, must be retained and strengthened.
  • Consideration of environmental impacts, heritage, local character and amenity during the development phase must be mandated, and minimum standards set to maintain or improve environmental outcomes and sustainability.
  • The requirement for concurrence by agencies responsible for environment and heritage protection must not be removed from individual projects.

3. Development must put local residents and communities first.

  • The key objective of the NSW Planning System must be to enhance the wellbeing of communities- social, environmental and economic, and to retain and enhance the character and residential amenity of existing local communities.
  • All levels of planning must value existing and future community benefit as part of the evidence base and have the goal of net positive community benefit.
  • Immediate neighbours must be compensated by commercial developers for negative impacts of a development such as property devaluation.
  • The value of ‘green infrastructure’ and amenity- parks, gardens, waterways, trees, cycleways and biodiversity corridors- must be fully recognised and protected.
  • Appropriate design quality standards for development within residential areas, including for residential flats, must be enforced.

4. Strategic planning must be evidence-based.

  • Any decision to increase Sydney’s population must be based on environmental, social and economic studies that fully explore the benefits and disadvantages of population growth and housing targets.
  • Overall planning strategies must be comprehensively based on sound established data that demonstrate improved quality of life and optimal environmental outcomes.
  • There must be a clear link and consistency between planning decisions at state, regional and local levels and the relevant environmental, social and economic data.
  • Where there is insufficient data, studies must be completed before planning decisions are made.
  • Persons preparing studies for a purpose under the Planning Act must be professionally accredited, not engaged by vested interests and subject to penalties if they provide misleading or false information.
  • The data used to support planning decisions must be available when decisions are being made, free of charge and easily accessible to the public.

5. Development must comply with strategic planning instruments.

  • Once strategic plans are finalised, developers must not have the right to request ‘spot-re-zonings’ or propose developments that go beyond what has been agreed.
  • Certifiers must not be engaged by vested interests.  Any private certifier should be selected from a panel on a strictly rotational basis. Robust systems should also be put into place to ensure that all certifiers dutifully comply with all specifications and requirements. There should be adequate appeal mechanisms available against their decisions and penalties imposed for infringement of duty requirements.

6. Infrastructure goes hand in hand with development.

  • Governments must ensure that infrastructure required to serve existing and new developments has been planned, funded and provided prior to occupation.
  • State, regional, sub-regional and local plans must identify and fully cost the extent and type of new infrastructure needed as a result of the level of development being proposed.
  • Infrastructure must be delivered in an integrated and timely fashion (ie- not after development has occurred).