The Better Planning Network Community Forum on NSW Planning Reforms

A Full House!
A Full House!

Community Planning Forum, NSW Parliament Theatrette,   Monday 20 May 2013, 10am-3pm




On 20 May 2013, the  Better Planning Network  hosted a forum on the NSW planning reforms attended by 150 people at NSW Parliament House.

It was co-hosted by the Hon. Brad Hazzard, Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, the Hon. Luke Foley, MLC, Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile, MLC, Mr David Shoebridge, MLC, and Mr Alex Greenwich, Independent MP for Sydney.


Speakers, including myself, were Marcus Ray, John Mant, James Ryan, Ian Sinclair, Van Le, Nicole Gurran and David Logan.


Quentin Dempster facilitated the event.





Presentations by a range of speakers can be viewed at:


A video of my presentation is at:


And here’s my PowerPoint presentation:


Sarkissian Better Planning Network Sarkissian May 2013_NOTES

What an event!


What an event this was! Activist street theatre in Parliament House!


I sat there for hours (between rushing away for media interviews with the ABC and with the Herald),   watching as the Minister for Planning sat (also for five hours) in the front row listening to community concerns about the proposed planning legislation.

I had never seen anything like it!

Panel discussion in the afternoon
Panel discussion in the afternoon

It was by far one of the most professional events I have ever attended.

The facilitator and meeting planner in me was really impressed. Everything about it was perfect — and went seamlessly. The team from the Better Planning Network (all consummate professionals in their own rights) did a stellar job.


And the results: lots and lots of support for dramatic changes to the proposed legislation.


For my part, I spoke about the appalling weaknesses in the proposed community engagement processes. It’s the second time I’ve taken on this subject with the Minister sitting in the front row. And it’s yet to change. But with recent events (and revelations such as the recent admissions by NSW Planning supremo, Sam Haddad, that the processes are deeply flawed), we might just be making progress.


It was exciting: a full house! There were numerous stimulating presentations and discussions – inside the theatrette and in the foyer. Significant concerns were raised regarding community engagement, environmental and heritage protection.


I know that the BPN looks forward to meeting with the Minister and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure to achieve a more balanced planning system acceptable to ordinary residents and communities across the State.


I was impressed by the words of my old friend, John Mant, who said:


The exhibited White Paper and the draft Planning Bills are an incompetent mishmash of the past complexities and free market ideology.


Among concerns, also raised by the Greens and other parliamentarians (including Mr David Shoebridge), are the following concerns that these reforms will:

  1. Hand over the key planning decisions on land use to unelected regional bodies dominated by Ministerial appointees.
  2. See up to 80% of development approved in 10 to 25 days without any community notification or contribution.
  3. Force local councils to deliver unpopular planning decisions made at a state and regional level.
  4. Further reduce heritage and environmental protections.
  5. Take the democracy out of planning by removing elected councillors from most decision making on developments.
  6. Let developers off the leash by “letting the market decide” where new housing and development will occur.
  7. Introduce new taxes so that new in-fill development subsidises unprofitable and damaging urban sprawl.
  8. Expand the use of developer-paid private certifiers to assess and approve the majority of developments.


See also:


26 June presentation by Corinne Fisher, including a summary of the White Paper and the planning bill:


Here is Corinne with the Minister:

Brad and Corinne







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