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Knoll shoots down council bid to reclaim planning powers

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New Planning Minister Stephan Knoll has pre-emptively rejected an Adelaide City Council bid to reclaim its major planning powers.

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The council lost its rights to advise on major developments in the CBD and North Adelaide in 2013, when then-Planning Minister John Rau dropped the maximum value of projects under its remit to $10 million.

Late last year, Lord Mayor Martin Haese wrote to Rau, asking for that threshold to be raised – but he received no response.

Haese told last night’s council meeting he had “enthusiastically, vigorously” pursued the matter with Rau and that he would launch a new bid to regain the council’s planning powers now that South Australia has a new government and a new Minister for Planning.

But Knoll told InDaily before yesterday’s meeting that the government had no intention of giving the council its old powers back.

“The State Government has no plans to amend the current city planning framework at this stage,” he said in a statement.

A spokesperson for his office confirmed this meant that the Government would not be returning planning powers to the city council.

Knoll added, however, that: “We will be working constructively with the Adelaide City Council and other stakeholders to streamline our planning processes and drive more investment into our city.”

Haese told InDaily this afternoon that he believed the Government might still reconsider.

“Following Council endorsement … in October last year, I raised these matters with the previous Minister for Planning, John Rau,” he said.

“I believe there is an opportunity for these matters to be reassessed and I look forward to discussing them soon with the new Minister for Planning.”

Area councillor Anne Moran spearheaded last year’s push and attempted to renew it last night (but her motion was deemed too similar to last year’s motion asking for the Capital City Committee to discuss the issue with the Planning Minister – a motion that remains in force).

She told InDaily this morning that the current planning framework was not good for the city.

Moran urged Knoll to reconsider and said she hoped the council could establish a more fruitful relationship with the Marshall Government on planning than it had with the Weatherill Government.

“The developers don’t like going through the government’s assessment (processes) anymore,” she told InDaily.

“Our (development assessment process) is probably a little too ‘yes/no’ and simplistic; theirs (the Government’s) has been bogged down in peer review.

“We need to work together.”

She added: “This isn’t just a ‘give us back our powers, you bastards’.”

“I’d ask him (Knoll) to look at what we’re proposing again.

“He shouldn’t say no to you (the media) before he’s spoken to us.”

Moran’s motion suggested that the Capital City Committee ask the Planning Minister to consider four options:

She said she wouldn’t have expected the new Government to agree to a wholesale return of planning powers to the council, but she hoped it would consider the latter three options seriously.

“Three our to the four things that I put up still give the state power over the big stuff,” she said.

She argued that the council was effectively assessing less and less valuable development every year because of inflation – a situation that did not work for either level of government.

“It isn’t fair, the current situation,” she added.

Knoll told a press conference today that the Liberal Party would continue with the former Government’s broader planning reforms, which he said would give developers “certainty”.

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