The Outsider gets a slap
InDaily, Monday, 25 March 2013
Letter to the editor
Secretary, Community Alliance SA
Your comments (The Outsider, March 22, 2013) on opposition to high rise development in the suburbs and opposition to the bill to amend the interim development powers of the Minister do not do justice to the ‘plain sense’ view of ordinary people subjected to such fiascos as Mount Barker, St Clair at Woodville, Buckland Park, etc.
The issue in all these cases is primarily one of ‘due process’ which the government cannot seem to grasp. Most people want development, but not dubious ‘conflicted’ reports, secret deals, land-swaps between valuable open space land and tainted factory land, etc. What they want is ‘common sense’ development and good planning. Instead, they are getting spin, clever lawyers’ solutions, and in almost every deal, no genuine consultation (Bowden excepted).
Using emergency powers to circumvent due process to ‘save time and money’ may sound like a good idea to you until you look more closely at whose time and money is being saved. In my view, most of the complaints about lost time and money are questionable and largely self-inflicted, and created in part by the government’s messy attempts to close off local governments’ powers to have any say at all in approving large developments. This has resulted, over the last five years or so, in many large developments getting rejected by local councils (often for knowingly breaching their guidelines on height, bulk, environmental issues, heritage, etc.), and then the developers having to wait for the State Government committee or Minister to intervene and rapidly approve what may in fact be a not so smart but still ‘non-complying’ project.
If the government wants to take away council’s rights to shape development in their areas, it needs to develop better alternative means for the people most affected to put their views on the table. To ignore this as an issue is to say we need development at ‘any’ cost. Development at any cost is, I would like to suggest, is nearly always bad development. At the moment we appear to have the worst of both worlds, with the council not being able to do its job, and the State Government using loopholes in the present system to ram through developments that nobody in their right mind should have ever approved.
Outsourcing this critical policy development stuff to Connor Holmes (whatever their merits as planners and experts are), in the certain knowledge that they are also working as lobbyists for those that are to benefit directly from what is to be decided, is a symptom of a conflicted and failing approach to development and planning. We all need development, but we need development we will value in 10 years’ time, not that we will regret tomorrow.
The link to the article as published in InDaily