Changing Climates, Changing Cities? Planning Reform and Urban Sustainability in New South Wales
Australasian Journal of Natural Resources Law and Policy, vol 16, pp. 133-156.
25 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2017 Last revised: 13 Jul 2018
Date Written: 2013
In its White Paper outlining proposed reforms to the legal framework for planning, the NSW government states that the ‘key objective’ of the new planning system will be ‘to promote and enable economic growth and positive development for the benefit of the entire community, while protecting the environment and enhancing people’s way of life. It is about enabling development that is sustainable.’
This article discusses the way in which sustainability is treated in the White Paper and the draft planning legislation released with it in 2013. Drawing on the most recent findings from urban climatology, it argues that climate change is critical for sustainability in NSW, and that there is a particular need for both climate change mitigation and adaptation in urban areas. It examines the concept of ‘sustainable development’ put forward in the government’s reform proposals, followed by a consideration of its treatment in the new frameworks proposed for strategic planning and development assessment. It then examines one of the most controversial aspects of the reform proposals: the move to dramatically increase the proportion of development assessed using non-discretionary development codes. Despite the government’s rhetoric, this article finds little in the reform proposals to suggest that the new planning system will indeed foster sustainable development in NSW.
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