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Expert panel to review SA's planning system

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EXCLUSIVE | The State Government has apppointed a four-person industry panel to review South Australia’s planning legislation, parts of the Planning and Design Code and the e-planning system.

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The panel, to be led by planning consultant John Stimson, will look into the relatively recently implemented Planning and Design Code, particularly in relation to contentious areas such as urban infill, heritage, character and trees.

Stimson will be joined by Cate Hart, the president of the Planning Institute of Australia (SA) and a senior public servant in the Department of Environment and Water, Andrew McKeegan, the executive director of transport property in the Victorian Department of Transport and a former senior South Australian planning bureaucrat, and Lisa Teburea, the executive group manager planning and urban policy with the ACT Government.

The Government, which foreshadowed the move ahead of the state election, said the aim of the review was to “encourage a more liveable, competitive, and sustainable long-term growth strategy for Greater Adelaide and our regions”.

Planning Minister Nick Champion said the review’s scope would cover:

Champion said the panel would provide recommendations to be considered by the Government next year.

“We’re committed to a future that honours where we have been and forges a clear path to building the state for future generations,” Champion said.

“Adelaide is consistently ranked among the best places in the world to live and without a bold vision and strong planning laws in place, we risk losing the character of our streets and neighbourhoods.

“I’m looking forward to working with members of the expert panel and encourage industry groups, practitioners, public and community groups to share their feedback and contribute to this important work.”

South Australia’s planning system has been the subject of controversy over the past decade. The Weatherill Government established an expert panel on planning reform in 2013, in the wake of the Mt Barker rezoning controversy.

The results of its reforms have taken years to flow through, with the full effect of the 2016 Act only coming into force last year.

The Marshall Government grappled with numerous delays to the roll-out of the planning code, due mostly to complexities with delivering the statewide electronic platform.

Community groups have also been critical of the reforms, during the terms of both the Weatherill and Marshall governments, with concerns including a perceived lack of community engagement in the system, threats to heritage and character of suburbs, and a loss of trees in the urban landscape.

The new panel comes relatively soon after the full roll-out of the previous reforms.

Stimson will be the presiding member of the group.

He has worked as an urban geographer, town planner and project manager for more than three decades, with his CV including stints at consultants Connor Holmes and Fyfe, and as planning and design manager with Fairmont Homes.

According to his LinkedIn, he was a director of Connor Holmes when the State Government controversially engaged the company to produce the growth area investigation report into Mt Barker.

Stimson has worked on numerous development projects, including Playford Alive, the urban renewal project at Woodville West, Springwood, Burgundy Estate and Parkvale, Heights View and Heights View East.

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