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Local Government Urban Planning & Development Summit
Oct 19-20, Sydney
Click here for more information

Council Manager magazine

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Welcome to Planning News October 12th, 2010

Planning News is a free monthly newsletter service for town planning and urban design professionals within local and state government as well as the private sector. The email-based newsletter provides news briefs, best practice and innovative ideas, diary dates and senior job vacancies. Please feel free to distribute this newsletter to your colleagues. There is no restriction on its distribution.

Planning News is brought to you by the Local Government Team at Hallmark Editions which publishes Councillor Magazine, Council Manager, Public Works Engineering (for the IPWEA), LG News and LGJobs.

Each week, we also provide an up-to-date listing of vacancies within the planning profession in the public and private sectors. PlanJobs will alert planning professionals to employment opportunities within the planning field.

Planning News is edited by Ben Hutchison, email benh@halledit.com.au.


1.  Possible delay in finalising new urban policy for Australia

Development of a national urban policy for Australia might not be finalised by later this year as originally planned. The policy is being formulated by the Major Cities Unit within Infrastructure Australia.

A federal government spokesperson says the unit was expected to finish work on the policy by late 2010, but the timing could be put back until early 2011 because of delays associated with the federal election.

Development of the policy was announced in 2009 by Federal Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, who said at the time that Australia needed a policy framework to assist federal, state, territory and local governments to create productive, liveable and sustainable cities.

Mr Albanese said the key issues facing Australia’s cities were ensuring sustainable development and proper planning and strategic investment in social and physical infrastructure. He said Australia had the knowledge, technology and willingness to improve its major cities, but lacked the right leadership from government and business.

Mr Albanese said sub-optimal planning, land use and settlement patterns were a result of Australia’s disparate decision-making processes.

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2.  Local Government Urban Planning Summit to be held next week

The national Local Government Urban Planning & Development Summit, to be held in Sydney from October 19-20, is on track to be a major event for Australia’s local government sector.

The summit’s agenda and information about how to register is available at www.halledit.com.au/urbanplan2010

This important summit meeting will provide local government planners, managers and councillors with high-quality advice, leading-edge case studies and excellent networking opportunities that will help them plan sustainable community growth and generate successful planning outcomes within their own municipalities.

Leading local government practices will be detailed in areas such as:

  • Strategic planning for urban growth;
  • Improving development assessment systems;
  • Urban renewal and activity centre development;
  • Community consultation in planning processes.

Speakers will include representatives of the summit’s supporting local government organisations the National Growth Areas Alliance and the National Sea Change Taskforce as well as:

  • Dyan Currie, President Elect of the Planning Institute of Australia
  • Angelo Licciardello, Director of Planning and Development, Townsville City Council.
  • Teresa Dominik, Manager Economic and Environmental Planning at Manningham City Council.
  • Brydon King, Surf Coast Shire’s Planning and Development Manager.
  • Nick Vass-Bowen, Ipswich City Council Strategic Planning Manager.
  • Andrea Kenafake, Manager of Development Assessment at Brisbane City Council.
  • Jill Gaynor, Manager of Strategic Planning Services at Newcastle City Council.
  • Paul Waterhouse, Chair of the national Development Assessment Forum (DAF).
  • Stephen Fairnham, Gosford City Council’s Manager of The Gosford Challenge urban development project.
  • Dr Ian Winter, Executive Director, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.
  • Jane Blackmore, Research Leader Coastal Vulnerability and Planning for the CSIRO.

To be staged in the wake of the Federal Election, this important summit meeting of local government planning staff, senior managers and councillors from across Australia will analyse the current direction of legislative reform and the future role of councils in planning and approving development in existing suburbs and towns, as well as greenfield areas.

- To Register: Register online by visiting www.halledit.com.au/urbanplan2010

- Registration is only $895 or One Day attendance for only $500.

Delegate attendance enquiries can be directed to: Denise McQueen, Hallmark Conferences + Events, Phone: (03) 8534 5021, Fax: (03) 8534 5121, Email: denise.mcqueen@halledit.com.au

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3.  Consideration of key NBN legislation delayed

Legislation requiring planning regulations across Australia to mandate the installation of fibre optic cabling in new developments has not been put on the notice paper to be debated by the new Federal Parliament.

The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Fibre Deployment) Bill 2010 facilitates the roll-out of optical fibre and fibre-ready telecommunications infrastructure to greenfields developments to ensure high-speed broadband connections are immediately available to new residents.

It provides for the Federal Government to set out in subordinate legislation which kinds of developments need to have optical fibre and which ones need fibre-ready. The government may also specify conditions for both fibre and fibre-ready facilities to ensure they meet technical and service standards.

Debate on the legislation was introduced in about March this year and its passage was delayed because it was considered by a Senate Communications Committee.

The change of Prime Minister and subsequent calling of the August election meant the bill was not considered, and it has not been listed, at this stage, for further debate by the current Parliament.

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, said when the legislation was introduced that high-speed broadband was becoming a critical service like water electricity and gas. He said the government wanted to see people in new estates getting access to "superfast" broadband as soon as possible.

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4.  Sustainable population advisory panels pushing ahead with consultations

Three panels, including local government representatives, established in mid-2010 to play a key role in establishing a policy for sustainable population are close to being on track with their work.

The Demographic Change and Liveability Panel; the Productivity and Prosperity Panel; and the Sustainable Development Panel were set up by the Federal Government as the “first step in establishing an open national dialogue” on its Sustainable Population Strategy.

A spokesperson for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Minister, Tony Burke, says the panels did not meet during the caretaker period of government leading up to the August 21 election and are slightly behind their intended schedule of consultation.

The spokesperson says, however, that a public issues paper to be developed on advice received from the three panels should still be released around the end of 2010 or in early 2011.

Graeme Sawyer, the Lord Mayor of Darwin and Chair of the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors; Pam Parker, the Mayor of Logan City Council; and Ruth Spielman, Executive Director of the National Growth Areas Alliance have seats on the Demographic Change and Liveability Panel.

Nicole Lockwood, President of the Shire of Roebourne is a member of the Productivity and Prosperity Panel; while Bob Abbot, Mayor of Sunshine Coast Regional Council; and Bill Forrest, CEO/Regional Director of ICLEI Oceania are members of the Sustainable Development Panel.

Minister Burke says all members of the three panels will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience on population issues and will be vital in developing a comprehensive population strategy. He says the Sustainable Population Strategy panels will reflect a diverse range of community views and provide advice on the issues, views, tradeoffs, opportunities and challenges associated with population growth and population ageing.

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5.  Tailored planning resources for rural and remote councils

Development of a planning process to help councils of small, rural or remote communities improve their asset management is nearing completion.

The initiative, being undertaken by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, is focused on councils with small populations and limited resources to develop best practice in asset management.

ACELG says the program has all the elements required of a full asset management plan but is less complicated. It is designed for councils which may have limited or out of date information about their infrastructure.

It is proposed to publish guidelines dealing with the planning process as a Practice Note - the final rewrite of the guidelines is being undertaken currently.

ACELG says the states and territories have responded keenly to the pending release of the resource, and it is anticipated the first pilot programs will commence before the end of 2010.

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6.  Major initiative to deliver sustainable planning and design standards

A project to develop best practice sustainable planning and design standards is being launched by the Green Building Council of Australia and the Planning Institute of Australia.

The council and the institute have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will see them work together on the development and delivery of a Green Star Communities rating tool.

The GBCA says the project is in its infancy and should take about 18 months to be completed. It will be developed in two stages. The first stage will involve the development of a national framework for sustainable communities that establishes five national best practice principles to guide sustainable communities in Australia.

Those principles are: enhance liveability; create opportunities for economic prosperity; foster environmental responsibility; embrace design excellence; and demonstrate visionary leadership and strong governance.

The second stage of the project focuses on the development of the rating tool which provides best practice benchmarks informed by the framework. The tool will be used for assessing sustainable communities. Stage two will also define appropriate governance processes for accreditation, certification, review and continual improvement.

According to the GBCA's Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, the MoU confirms Green Star Communities as a project of national significance. Ms Madew says best practice planning is vital if Australia is to deliver communities that are liveable, sustainable and adaptable.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of Planning Institute of Australa, Kirsty Kelly, says the MoU is a clear signal that planners are committed to sustainable communities. She says institute members will contribute urban, environmental and social planning information that will help establish best practice standards in the planning tool. Further information on the Green Star Communities initiative can be found here.

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7.  Communities challenged to plan strategically for their future

Communities and regions around Australia have been challenged by Regional Development Minister, Simon Crean, to do more than just present “wish lists” for their future wellbeing.

Mr Crean says he’s personally issuing the challenge for communities to put forward strategic plans. The minister says he wants solutions for development coming from the communities, rather than having them “imposed from above by Canberra”.

Mr Crean says they must advance considered proposals that promote local interests in an efficient, productive and sustainable way. He says he wants communities to be able to take responsibility for chartin g their economic, social and environmental wellbeing, and devise a way forward that stacks up against sound socio-economic principles.

Mr Crean says regional development is not about political largesse at election time; he says it has too often been viewed in such a way.

He says taking a regional approach recognises that at any point in time, various parts of a region will be growing while others are diminishing; and the role of regional development policy should be to support regions while ensuring people are able to best manage the move to a more diversified economic base with new employment and lifestyle opportunities.

Mr Crean says he genuinely believes that better outcomes are delivered when local communities are given a real voice and that empowering the communities is the key to unlocking the economic and social potential of regional Australia.

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8.  NSW councils conditionally welcome changes to protect coastal areas

Revised legislation dealing with erosion and unauthorised protection works along the New South Wales coast has received conditional acceptance from the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW.

The State Government has introduced to Parliament the revised version of the Coastal Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill after undertaking widespread consultation with key stakeholders during the winter recess.

Key provisions of the bill include:

  • increasing options available to councils when dealing with coastal erosion and unauthorised coastal protection work;
  • providing additional legal protection for councils dealing with coastal erosion issues; and
  • creating an expert NSWW Coastalo Panel to advise on coastal management and approve temporary or permanent coastal protection works in certain circumstances.

President of the Local Government Association, Genia McCaffery, says the bill has been considerably amended after the associations called for more time to consult with concerned councils. She says the Coastal Panel now has three representatives from local government, and its charter now gives it the potential to assist councils in addressing complex, contentious coastal planning issues.

Cr McCaffery says the early draft of the bill gave landowners an unfettered right to repeatedly protect their own properties, with no consideration of the longer term effects or impacts on their neighbours.

She says penalty provisions have also been significantly strengthened, as have council powers to issue notices to direct that illegal or inappropriate works are removed.

Cr McCaffery says, however, the associations still hold concerns about whether the permissible emergency works, such as sandbag walls, will work in real-life situations and offer any protection.

She says the LGSA would like the State Government provide information and data to assist all coastal councils to confidently plan for the future, particularly in relation to sea level rise,

Cr McCaffery says the current emergency works provisions are reactive as landowners will, for the most part, wait until erosion is happening, She says given there are only 200 properties involved in the short to medium term, councils believe it would be better to work proactively with landowners to develop longer term strategies, such as protective works or planned retreat.

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9.  Decision on Melton Shire's major residential development due by year's end

Melton Shire Council, located on Melbourne's north-western outskirts, expects to name a preferred developer by late this year to partner it in a multi-million dollar residential development.

The development – which could involve about 4,000 houses, schools and a neighbourhood activity centre – will be housed on 381 hectares of land owned by the council for about 20 years. The estimated value of the land is at least $100 million.

The four short-listed proponents are Australand, Delfin/Lend Lease, Stockland, and Mirvac & Jayaland. They were selected from a list of about 20 companies that submitted Expressions of Interest in the development.

Melton Shire’s General Manager for Planning and Development, Luke Shannon, says the proponents have lodged detailed submissions outlining their concept for the development and the returns council could expect to receive. He says council is due to cut the number of proponents to two by the end of October and to announce the successful developer in the days leading up to Christmas.

Mr Shannon says council is impressed with the standard of the submissions lodged by the proponents. Council staff are currently analysing and comparing the bids, and clarifying any questions that might arise with the bidders.

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10.  Legislation paves way for retrofitting commercial buildings in Melbourne

The City of Melbourne can now help building owners obtain finance to retrofit their buildings, with Australia’s first legislation to support such retrofits being passed by the Victorian Parliament.

The amendment to the City of Melbourne Act means commercial building owners will have access to finance for retrofits that will reduce energy use, save water and lower carbon emissions through the city’s 1200 Buildings Program.

Financial institutions will be able to advance funds to the owners for retrofitting works – the funds will be recovered by council through a charge that is linked to rates collection.

Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, says council estimates the 1200 Buildings Program will generate up to $2 billion in new investment and around 8,000 extra green jobs over the life of the program.

Cr Doyle says the City of Melbourne has developed the financial mechanism with banks to build incentive for environmental retrofits and overcome the difficulty that many building owners have accessing capital to finance their environmental projects.

Planning Minister, Justin Madden, says the 1200 Buildings Program aims to make two thirds of the city’s existing buildings meet ambitious green targets and it will significantly reduce Victoria’s carbon footprint, while bringing large scale investment and jobs into the city.

Mr Madden says cities generate more than 70% of the world’s carbon emissions and environmentally retrofitting buildings is widely recognised as one of the most cost effective ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

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11.  NSW Government says milestone reached for planning controls

The NSW Government says it has achieved “a significant milestone” in its program to provide additional housing and employment land, and to update and simplify local planning controls.

It says the publication of the Penrith local environmental plan means 25 new council-wide and significant Local Environment Plans have been created using the standard template framework.

State Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, says in August 2009, he and Local Government Minister, Barbara Perry, wrote to all councils advising of changes to the Standard Instrument LEP program and identifying 67 priority LEPs to be finalised by June 2011.

Mr Kelly says the government announced an LEP Acceleration Fund in the 2009/10 State Budget, providing $10 million over two years to assist councils to finalise their SI LEPs earlier than originally planned. He says on top of the 25 LEPs completed, a further 58 are in an advanced stage of preparation.

Mr Kelly says the standard template is proving to be a successful planning tool to assist councils in updating their LEPs, which in some cases were up to 40 years old. He says it provides a common framework for the layout, zone names and definitions of major new LEPs in NSW, making them easier to implement and understand. Before the introduction of the standard template, there were 3,100 different zones and 1,700 different definitions

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12.  Health a key issue for whole-of-council planning

Councils need to incorporate health planning into whole-of-council planning, according to the Mayor of Colac Otway Shire, Lyn Russell.

The council has just formulated a draft Public Health and Wellbeing plan outlining the ways it intends to maximise the health and wellbeing of the community. The plan sets goals for the next four years based on issues identified by shire residents during community consultation sessions, as well as health data from national, state and regional sources.

Cr Russell says health and wellbeing is not just influenced by genetics and individual choices, but by the provision of healthcare, political, socio-economic and environmental factors. She says life expectancy is shorter and most diseases are more common further down the social ladder in society.

Cr Russell says unemployment, social exclusion, stress and addiction are well known to have a negative impact on health and wellbeing, while positive factors include a good start to education in early life, strong social support networks, good access to transport and a healthy diet.

The draft Health and Wellbeing Plan will be available for public feedback for at least six weeks and responses will be taken into account by council in formulating the final plan. The draft plan will be available under the Notice Board section on council’s homepage at www.colacotway.vic.gov.au.

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13.  NSW Government proposes new development assessment regulations

A draft updated Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation has been placed on public exhibition in New South Wales, with feedback due by November 5.

According to the NSW Government, the proposals are designed to streamline processing of development applications and have the potential to reduce costs to applicants by $316 million a year and cut up to six weeks from decision times.

The regulation is being reviewed in line with state law and carries important changes to the Part 4 assessment system predominantly used by councils to process 85,000 development applications a year.

These amendments will:

  • Require councils to only ask for additional information from an applicant once during the assessment process within 21 days of lodgement;
  • Require state agencies to respond to requests for their support or advice in relation to a development application within 21 days;
  • Revise deemed refusal time-frames to take into account the above measures and to reflect the complexity of the proposed developments;
  • Require consent authorities to apply the state’s sea level rise planning benchmarks if they are considering sea level rise issues when assessing applications;
  • Change classes of designated development;
  • Improve planning certificates to address their complexity and length; and
  • Provide greater certainty to councils and landowners as to when work is deemed to have commenced.

NSW Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, says councils will continue to be able to reject planning proposals that do not contain adequate information or include relevant fees.

Mr Kelly says the regulation change targets the 40% of applications which are being put on hold for prolonged periods while a consent authority seeks additional information on a number of occasions. Details on how to make submissions can be found here.

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14.  Improving housing affordability in south east Queensland

The Council of Mayors (SEQ) is developing an initiative to improve housing affordability in the region.

The council has secured $1.1 million in funding from the Federal Department of Families, Housing and Community Affairs to develop and implement the Next Generation Planning Project.

The project’s objective is to produce a consistent approach to the delivery of housing affordability policies and codes by December 31, 2010.

Creating standard housing related codes for the region will assist in the efficient delivery of residential developments and also provide incentives to deliver more affordable housing. The project is also designed to achieve efficiencies and cost savings that would not be achieved at a local level.

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15.  Queensland local government brands planning take-over as undemocratic

The Queensland Local Government Association and the Council of Mayors (SEQ) are strongly opposed to a Queensland Government decision to take control of a major residential development from Sunshine Coast Regional Council.

The government says it intends to declare the Caloundra South development an Urban Development area. Under the declaration, planning for the Caloundra South Structure Plan would be transferred from the council to the state’s Urban Land Development Authority.

Premier, Anna Bligh, says the decision to transfer planning for the site was made by the government after Sunshine Coast Regional Council repeatedly failed to meet statutory planning deadlines under the Sustainable Planning Act.

LGAQ Chief Executive Officer, Greg Hallam, says the government’s unilateral declaration of the Caloundra South development as a ULDA area sets a dangerous precedent.

Mr Hallam says the move is the “first time a state government has used its exceptional powers to suspend democracy for what effectively will be a city with an end population of 50,000”. He says there are no appeal rights against any decisions of the ULDA and such an environment will be a developer’s dream – fast tracking, no community say and no appeals.

Council of Mayors Chairman, Campbell Newman, says the State Government is trampling on the rights of communities across Queensland with its powerful, but unaccountable, Urban and Land Development Authority. Cr Newman says residents are being denied a say in the big debates about the future shape of their communities.

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Conferences & Events

16.  Fire Australia 2010 Conference and Exhibition

Australia’s leading fire protection conference will this year focus on community and infrastructure, encompassing the protection of society’s assets, heritage and resources. The three day program will include 25 presentations from leading industry personnel on these and other future focused topics. The 2010 program welcomes several international and keynote speakers, such as John Woodcock, President of the IFE, Jo Fowler, Engineer with East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service and Russell Sanders, Executive Secretary of the NFPA.

To round out proceedings delegates can engage in extensive Q&A and panel discussion sessions with all speakers following their presentations. In addition, they’ll learn about the latest products and services through exhibitor presentations integrated throughout the program. A free exhibition, held adjacent to the plenary sessions, will accompany the conference with over thirty companies on display throughout the three days.

To ensure it’s not all work focused there’s a cocktail reception on the first evening and a farewell lunch at the end of day three. In addition, a night of food, drink, entertainment and raising funds for charity will be held on day two at the conference dinner. All of which provides plenty of time to network with industry peers and colleagues. There’s also three days of social tours for those wishing to bring their partners, which includes attendance to all other social functions.

Held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Broadbeach, Queensland, the venue is easily accessible via air or road. With many hotels within walking distance to both the convention centre and the beach, it’s the ideal opportunity to make a holiday out of a business trip. We’re anticipating good weather, good attendance and an exceptional conference, why not pack your beach towel and register now.

For more information and to register visit the conference website: www.fireaustralia.com.au

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17.  Digital Information Management Summit 2010

Dates - Tuesday 9th & Wednesday 10 November 2010
Venue - Dockside Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia

Knowledge management in the enterprise under the spotlight; featuring keynotes by Senator Kate Lundy and Gwen Thomas, president, Data Governance Institute (USA).

Award-winning case studies featuring the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink, Australian National Audit Office, State Water Corporation NSW, Corrective Services NSW, Swinburne University (Vic) Queensland University of Technology, , NSW Department of Education, Office of the CIO (SA), State Records NSW, CSIRO, Department of Treasury & Finance (Vic), among others.

Contact: Shahida Sweeney on 02 8923 8027; email: shahida.sweeney@govtechreview.com.au

Visit our website for more information.

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18.  One week until Local Government OHS & Risk Management Conference

The Local Government OHS and Risk Management Conference will be staged at Dockside, Darling Harbour, Sydney, on March 2 & 3, 2011.

This conference is designed to provide local government senior executives, risk management and OHS coordinators, human resource professionals and elected members with information on how to identify, plan and implement OHS and risk management strategies that result in safe, productive workplaces and lower insurance premiums.

A key element of the conference will be the presentation of case studies of innovative and successful local government OHS and risk management practices.

This conference will provide councils with important analysis of issues including:

  • How councils must respond to the impending harmonisation of Australia’s OHS regulations.
  • How to promote and encourage a culture of safety within a council workforce and achieve premium reductions.
  • Successful implementation of risk management frameworks in a local government organisation.
  • Methods for implementing effective strategies in other vital areas such as: business continuity; internal audit procedures; and climate change risk management.


  • Bernie de Vries - The National Safety Council of Australia’s Senior OHS Consultant.
  • Peter Napier – Risk Management Institution of Australasia Vice President and Ipswich City Council’s Integrated Risk Management Coordinator.
  • Cr Bill Kritharas – Senior Associate at law firm Norton Rose Australia and Deputy Mayor of Canterbury City Council, who will analyse the ramifications for councils of the national harmonisation of OHS regulations.
  • Luke Wallace, Manager Corporate Planning Performance & Risk, Redland Council, how will describe how the council has successfully undertaken processes to implement enterprise risk management frameworks.
  • Matthew Paul, Director of Occupational Medicine, Medibank Health Solutions.

To register for this conference download the Registration Brochure from the conference website www.halledit.com.au/ohs2011 or access the online payment facility on the website.

For more information about this conference

Denise McQueen
Hallmark Conferences & Events
Phone: +61 3 8534 5021
Email: denise.mcqueen@halledit.com.au

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