Greens introduce major legislation for a better planning system

Australian Greens

The ACT Greens will table sweeping legislation today to deliver substantial reform to the ACT’s planning and development system.

The Bill, to be tabled by Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur, will improve the quality of development, reduce the climate change and environmental impacts of development, and help residents impacted by development proposals have their say and be listened to.

If supported by the major parties, the legislation will:

• Consider, for the first time, climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions when Development Applications (DAs) are being assessed

• Require high greenhouse gas-emitting development proposals to undertake an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

• Introduce ACAT appeal rights for approvals of EIS exemptions

• Ensure that where developers make major changes to their proposals after public consultation, the public is again consulted before the application is considered

• Extend DA consultation periods over the Christmas/New Year period by around 3 weeksto stop residents missing out

• Ensure fairness in consultation for all Canberrans. Newer suburbs like Wright, Coombs, Denman Prospect, Lawson and Moncrieff would no longer be excluded from pre-DA consultation

• Extend energy efficiency ratings for rentals to 18 months so there are more Energy Efficiency Ratings in rental advertisements, with no additional cost for landlords

• Restore third-party appeal rights for development approvals that allow the removal of a Registered Tree. Registered Trees have the highest level of protection under the Tree Protection Act and are those trees with most significance to the community. This change is in response to the controversial 2019 removal of a registered plane tree at Manuka Shops

• Provide better access to information for residents and environment groups online, rather than just through the Directorate’s office

• Allow the Directorate to reject a DA that contains false or misleading information

• Ensure large retail developments are more closely scrutinised – for example, projects expected at Mawson, Kippax and Cooleman Court over coming years would be scrutinised by the Design Review Panel

• Ensure that the Legislative Assembly has greater oversight and scrutiny of controversial decisions.

Ahead of the Bill’s tabling, the Greens called on the major parties to back the Bill in the interests of all Canberrans.

“We need a planning system that delivers for all Canberrans,” Ms Le Couteur said today.

“The community expects that the decisions made for our city’s future are sustainable – prepare us for a more extreme climate reality – and give our community a say. When it comes to urban planning, progress has been far too slow.

“To keep Canberra a great place to live, as well as the ‘bush capital’, we really should be leaders in Sustainable urban development. The changes I’m proposing will help make this a reality.”

/Public Release. View in full here.