All posts by Tom Matthews

Rights at risk in new charter for planning decisions

A new ‘Community Engagement Charter’ proposed by the State Government looks set to further diminish the rights of ordinary South Australians to have a say in planned developments that impact on their homes, neighbourhoods and local environments.

The State Government is asking a panel of randomly selected South Australians to come up with ways “to put the people at the centre of major planning decisions.”

But their options to answer this question have been curtailed before they commenced their deliberations.  The decisions that most directly affect us all – those on assessing proposed developments – have been explicitly excluded from coverage by the charter and taken out of the reach of individuals, communities and local councils.

We risk further silencing public concerns about inappropriate and unlawful developments if the proposed charter does not protect and enhance rights to information, consultation and review.

The Community Alliance, representing more than 25 community and residents organisations, asks:

  • How will public rights to information, input and review be protected under the proposed charter of community engagement?
  • What new rights will the proposed charter give to ordinary people, community organisations and local government?

Planning Minister John Rau has been insisting that he only wants the public to be involved in decisions around planning policy and rules and not in the assessment of individual development proposals.  While it may be convenient for the Minister and the development industry to exclude the public from this key aspect of planning decision making, what ordinary South Australians want is to have a guaranteed say in development proposals that will directly affect their communities, their properties and their quality of life.

Putting people at the centre of the planning system means guaranteeing rights to information about development proposals.  It means guaranteeing rights to respond to those proposals and to have those responses heard in a fair, open and transparent way before developments are approved.

We call on the Government to show how the proposed charter will guarantee the rights of South Australians to have a say in the assessment of development proposals that will affect them and how they intend to ensure that those rights are enforceable under law.

 

Invitation to participate in the development of the Community Engagement Charter

Democracy Co has been chosen by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure to develop a Community Participation Charter for the South Australian Government. The legislation currently only allows community input on policy. Community Alliance believes that the community should also have a say when it comes to development assessment and that this process can help to put people back into planning. 

Below is the letter that was sent by Democracy Co to randomly chosen people inviting them to participate in developing the Charter. If you did not receive an invitation letter from Democracy Co, you are not eligible to participate. The letter is republished here for general interest only.

_____________________________________________________________________________

You are invited by The Hon John Rau MP, Minister for Planning and Chair of the State Planning Commission, Mr Tim Anderson QC, to help determine a new approach for involving the community in South Australia’s planning system.

How can we improve how people and communities are put at the centre of major planning decisions?

To be effective, planning must provide ways for the views of citizens to be heard, understood and acted upon. Too often current statutory consultation processes focus on individual developments and ask for feedback on ‘finished ideas’ at the end processes. This limits the value of consultation and frustrates citizens who want to participate in the development of policies and strategies.

We are reforming the planning system to address these issues and place people at the forefront of the planning process. The key plank of pursuing these reforms is the Community Engagement Charter (Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016).

We are convening a panel (the Planning Together Panel) of 50 randomly selected community members working closely with stakeholders from the planning sector (local and state government, developers, place makers, planners, designers) to consider this issue and draft the Community Engagement Charter.

We hope that you can be part of this panel.

Selection

This invitation is being sent to over 5,000 people from across South Australia. An honorarium of $350 will be paid to panel members – see below.

You are invited to register your interest to be part of the Panel by cob Friday, May 12, 2017.

Please follow this link to RSVP and register your interest and read on for further information: 

RSVP

Or copy and paste the URL below into your internet browser:
https://survey.qualtrics.com/jfe/preview/SV_9MLHpJqJclvxMFv?Q_CHL=preview

Everyone who accepts will be entered into a random selection process to finalise the Panel. On registration you’ll be asked a few more questions to ensure the panel is made up of 50 people who broadly represent the South Australian population and locality. Your registration of interest and contact details will remain private.

People who are in paid political employment are ineligible for selection.

Your work

As a panel, you will meet with the Minister and the new State Planning Commission at the outset of your work to draft a Community Engagement Charter.

Your draft Charter will be provided to the incoming State Planning Commission and tabled in Parliament by the Minister for Planning.

You will be informed about the adoption of the Charter from the Planning Reform team and democracyCo.

How will the panel work?

You will need to attend all four workshops in person, and commit to pre-read a kit of materials. (For an introduction to SA’s new planning system, click here)

You will hear from planning industry practitioners and you’ll work with stakeholders in facilitated workshops run by independent facilitators, democracyCo. .

You will be working in a collaborative way – sharing your experiences and perspectives but also learning and listening to others.

After Day 4 you will receive a one-off honorarium payment of $350 to cover expenses and incidentals. (Special arrangements for participants travelling more than 100km will be discussed on confirmation).

Why get involved?

Planning impacts on all of our lives.

At the present time, consultation with the community occurs towards the end of the planning process, with few or no options given. Major decisions appear to have been already made and community views given at this stage are frequently ignored and appear to have little to no impact on the final outcome. As a South Australian you can help develop the Charter that guides the way the community is involved in planning for the future.

The Charter will guide the way public participation is undertaken in the planning system in SA with a focus on involving community to have input into the formulation of local planning policy long before any specific conflict or frustration arises.

Prior knowledge or involvement in planning is not required to be a member of the Panel. What is required is an open mind, a willingness to learn and a commitment to support South Australia in this important work.

Key Dates

Saturday, 1 July      9.00am-4.30pm
Sunday, 2 July        9:00am-4:30pm
Saturday, 29 July    9.00am-4.30pm
Sunday, 30 July      9:00am-4:30pm

Where?

The Adelaide Pavilion
Parkview Room
Veale Gardens, cnr South Tce & Peacock Rd, Adelaide SA

MEDIA RELEASE – A Chainsaw Massacre is Coming to Glenside

 Yes the chain saws are coming to the Glenside Hospital site despite overwhelming community opposition, This means death to the koalas and other small Australian animals and insects that live in these beautiful, historic Glenside trees . What a disaster for the community who love the serenity, peace and healing ambience of Glenside.

The SA government appointed Development Assessment Commission (DAC) has decided that developer Cedar Woods can go ahead and chop down 83 of the 150 protected trees at Glenside plus hundreds more unprotected trees. In line with SA government approved planning laws the DAC has given Cedar Woods a licence to kill the native animals, destroy the nesting places of birds, and obliterate all the wild life from scarce marsupials to the tiny insects that all play such an important role in keeping our environment ticking over.

At the DAC hearing on the 9 March, which went on for four hours, the developer Cedar Woods had representatives at the meeting who were invited to speak, but in breach of the principles of “natural” justice, nobody from the community was allowed to speak when the decision was made to give developer Cedar Woods permission to chop the Glenside trees down, or even attend.

Tom Matthews, chair of Community Alliance said “There are no appeal rights, the developer has all the rights in the world but we the people of South Australia have no rights at all. This is a scandal. Where is the justice in this when the people have their voice stolen by a government apparently driven only by development industry greed? Cedar Woods isn’t even a South Australian Company!

Two years ago we were told that most of the trees would be retained. We were soothed gently and quietly by the government’s assurances and promises. Eloquent statements that now appear to have been cynical, self-serving lies.

Community Consultation? “Yes we were consulted” said Tom Matthews “and yes they listened to what we had to say but Renewal SA and the government took absolutely no notice of us whatever – it was a slimy, duplicitous done deal from the beginning”

 “We have a Minister for the Environment” said Mr. Matthews “but he has gone missing in action. The Minister has said nothing about the Glenside Trees and done nothing to save them. Why does the government bother to have a Minister for the Environment who does nothing to save our irreplaceable urban ecosystems? “

A Clean and Green SA government? Definitely not. On the one hand the government proudly bangs on about wind farm energy generation but on the other hand, has no qualms about chopping trees down and destroying our defenceless little animals.

Now for the next Con. The Planning Minister wants a Charter of Community Participation legislated in the new Planning Act but the Community Alliance says that the Charter will be a total waste of time.

“Why would any one believe that the SA Government listens, when it totally ignores people’s suggestions and concerns? We never hear back from any submissions or hearings. Nothing. Silence”. Mr Matthews said “This is a government that holds the concerned citizens of South Australia in complete contempt.”

 We live here because we like living in South Australia but we sure do NOT like what our Planning Minister is doing. Minister – we want our Glenside Trees saved. Just do it. The Trees, Animals Birds and Insects do good things for us.

Download .PDF

 For further information contact Tom Matthews, 0429 337 453 President Community Alliance SA

Rally to Protect Glenside Trees – March 2017