PLANNING, DEVELOPMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE (DESIGN STANDARDS) AMENDMENT BILL

This private member's bill, introduced on 25 August 2021, seeks to mandate that design standards must be prepared by the State Planning Commission (which I will hereafter refer to as 'the commission') and proposes to delete the words 'for the public realm or infrastructure'. I rise to speak against this bill and these are the reasons why.

Whilst the government shares an aspiration to ensure infill development is improved to provide additional amenity in local neighbourhoods, and clearly urban and rural development and its interface between these areas, we need to obviously look at the review into the environment and food production areas, which is currently underway and being undertaken by the State Planning Commission.

Urban consolidation is necessary to ensure and deliver affordable new homes that meet a diverse range of housing needs, and this clearly means a balance must be struck that allows for infill development and development meeting community expectations. We are getting on with this task through meaningful policy change, not minor variations to the act. We are doing the job now.

While only fully implemented in March this year, improved design outcomes will be achieved through the interaction of the Planning and Design Code and also through the design standards, which are the subject of this bill, currently being drafted by the State Planning Commission. While the member for Enfield was correct in her summation, that we 'see the results of past decisions all around us in the buildings, streets, suburbs and regions that make up our state today', she fails to acknowledge the huge impact the former government has made on the livability of suburbs throughout metropolitan Adelaide.

Like the member for Enfield, I also meet frequently with people across South Australia who remind me of the numerous issues experienced under the previous planning system, often referred to as 'Rau's rules'. Anyway, having brought our attention to the Rau era, since becoming Minister for Planning and Local Government I have taken significant steps to ensure that we maintain the character of our local neighbourhoods while providing opportunities for future population growth.

As the new planning system only came into operation across the state on 19 March, some five months ago, we are yet to see the full benefit of that. I remind members that the proposal to amend the act shows a misunderstanding about the pivotal role of the Planning and Design Code. In developing a new planning system for South Australia, the commission has ready undertaken extensive work to ensure design is at the forefront of the new system—and this is beyond the rather narrow reference to design standards. Let me explain why. Section 59 of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 provides:

…there is a specific state planning policy…that specifies design policies and principles that are to be applied.

I remind the member again that her predecessor actually introduced that bill which is now the law. This can be found at state planning policy:

(2) The design quality policy must include specific policies and principles with respect to the universal design of buildings and places to promote best practice in access and inclusion planning.

Informed by the overarching state planning policies, the recently implemented Planning and Design Code contains two specific design-related policies. I urge the member for Enfield to read them. They are titled Design and Design in Urban Areas.

These policies apply to a wide range of development types but, in particular, to dwellings and dwelling additions. They address matters such as overlooking and visual privacy, earthworks, external appearance, private open space, and landscaping. The code specifically allows for outcomes for street frontages and neighbourhoods while providing flexibility in design. This was created in response to strong community feedback during the first round of consultation on the code, and I am sure the member for Enfield has heard from constituents, as I and other members have, about the need for that to occur.

These features include requirements for more permeable surfaces, increased trees and green coverage, greater onsite water detention, improved facade articulation and reduced driveway crossovers to retain on-street car parking and street trees. Specifically, improvements about design require the incorporation of a minimum of three design features on front facades, including eaves, porches, balconies, different materials, stepping, etc., to improve visual interest and building articulation in order to satisfy a deemed-to-satisfy pathway. Data on car usage presented by the State Planning Commission suggests a problem of insufficient onsite parking, maybe due to the undersize or poorly designed garages for parking—

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: Indeed, as the member points out, it is a huge issue. The code addresses local parking through a combination of requirements for minimum garage dimensions, optimisation of on-street parking provision, retention and minimum onsite car parking rates.

In relation to trees and softening landscape, new policies in urban infill areas ensure at least one tree is planted per new dwelling. Options for payment into an offset fund where the tree planting is not feasible on site have also been created, but to date we have seen only one payment into the fund. I am pleased about that. I do not want to see anything go into it, but the least the better. Additionally, we have introduced a minimum soft landscaping requirement of 10 per cent to 25 per cent over the whole site, which will assist with stormwater issues and climate impacts.

These policy changes in the code are intended to have a significant impact at a local level. They seek to achieve enhanced street appeal for new dwellings through greater use of design elements and materials, as well as improvements to dwelling front windows, entry doors and provision of bin storage areas. However, they need time to work. As the member for Enfield recognises, 'the outcomes of good planning decisions are years in the making'.

The Local Design Review Scheme—let me alert members to this—is a new scheme which will see state and local governments collaborate closely to establish the processes and capacity needed to support high-quality development outcomes. We have moved this from a division that is available to government to councils and proponents of developments.

Work is also soon to begin on the preparation of the design standards by the commission. This work will commence later in the year, and start with design standards for local roads and driveway crossovers for infill development and new subdivisions. Design standards are intended to supplement the Planning and Design Code by specifying design principles, standards and guidance for the public realm or infrastructure.

Most of the member for Enfield's speech, of course, is about the matters that I have already referred to and that have already been addressed but, in relation to design standards, that is on its way through. The code itself is the place for design policy for the purposes of development assessment on private land.

The State Planning Policies, Planning and Design Code and the Local Design Review Scheme will provide a wealth of policy measures and guidance to ensure that good design is fully considered in the state's new planning system and will of course be available to a much broader group of people to assist them in that regard. Given the brief time the code has been in place, I recommend it be given the opportunity to be tested for a period before any legislative change is considered on this matter. I oppose the bill.

Ms MICHAELS (Enfield) (11:07): I want to thank the Attorney for her contribution. I am very pleased we are on the same page, in that we do need to do a lot more work on improving the livability of South Australia, in particular of Adelaide. Some of the issues she has raised are a concern on both sides of the chamber, and I look forward to supporting this bill through to the next stage so that we can actually implement some of these actions now rather than wait on policies that may or may not eventuate.

Ayes 20

Noes 24

Majority 4

AYES
Bedford, F.E. Bettison, Z.L. Bignell, L.W.K.
Boyer, B.I. Brown, M.E. Close, S.E.
Cook, N.F. Gee, J.P. Hildyard, K.A.
Hughes, E.J. Koutsantonis, A. Malinauskas, P.
Michaels, A. (teller) Mullighan, S.C. Odenwalder, L.K.
Piccolo, A. Picton, C.J. Stinson, J.M.
Szakacs, J.K. Wortley, D.  
NOES
Basham, D.K.B. Bell, T.S. Chapman, V.A.
Cowdrey, M.J. Cregan, D. Duluk, S.
Ellis, F.J. Gardner, J.A.W. Harvey, R.M. (teller)
Knoll, S.K. Luethen, P. Marshall, S.S.
McBride, N. Murray, S. Patterson, S.J.R.
Pisoni, D.G. Power, C. Sanderson, R.
Speirs, D.J. Tarzia, V.A. Treloar, P.A.
van Holst Pellekaan, D.C. Whetstone, T.J. Wingard, C.L.
PAIRS
Brock, G.G. Pederick, A.S.