|Our Planning System
Thursday 9th September, 2004
Photo: Shirley Bahadur
This week we begin a series on our
planning system and its impact on property values in the country.
In our country we have the right to own
property and this is specified in our Constitution to include the right
to enjoyment of property.
For some of us this has come to mean that
once we own a property it is ours to do whatever we please and this is
the reason for having a planning system.
The purpose of that system is to balance
the valid interests of landowners against those of the wider community,
including the generations to come, to secure national development.
The role of the planners is twofold—they
are responsible for devising policies which will secure the best balance
as outlined above and the development control process which obliges
those who wish to develop their property to seek the approval of the
planners within the framework of those policies.
Owners have the right to enjoy—i.e.
develop—their properties but this is mediated by the planning system to
ensure that those developments conform to planning policies.
We need to understand that although the
system limits everyone’s rights to develop, it has the capacity to
produce a better series of outcomes for the entire society by allocating
those rights in an efficient fashion.
The Town & Country Planning Division
published the Guide to Developers and Applicants for Planning Permission
in November 1989. This is an important document which gives advice on
the national development policies for most applicants. There are further
policies in respect of particular areas or issues.
But the system explained here must be
informed by an approach. In turn, that approach must be developed by
reference to our problems and opportunities.
What are these vital issues?
Is the continued decline of our city
Are there planning policies which could
slow or reverse the trend of out-of-town development?
In light of the poor quality of our
nation’s housing, can the planning system play a role in improving the
quality and quantity of affordable housing?
How can the planning system seek the best
allocation of scarce taxpayers’ dollars in the improvement of our
Are our remaining historic buildings
important assets or only fit to be demolished?
These are some of the searching questions
we would need to answer to develop those policies—what is the kind of
country we want to have?
Are we confident in our ability to plan
for positive outcomes?
Do we have enough of a social contract
that most people will “buy into” the necessity of conforming to planning
Can we achieve a consensus that
unauthorised development and land uses are not in our collective
A main source of tension is that planning
is a long-term activity—working towards results that may take decades to
become evident—which must also contend with today’s immediate demands
The rapid rate of social change to which
we are arguably becoming numb is itself heightening the tension on this
issue of the different time-horizons.
We are forced to go faster and faster to
avoid being consumed by the competition, all as we rush into an
increasingly uncertain future.
The only thing we know for sure is that
our children’s world will bear little resemblance to anything we can
Can anyone remember the early days of
Westmoorings, Valsayn, Maracas Gardens or Sumadh Gardens? Despite their
modest beginnings, these are all desirable areas today.
It is tempting to try predicting the
future and naming good areas in which to invest, but even if that was
wise, it is not the function of this column.
It is interesting to consider what are
the lessons to be learned from our recorded development and how these
might be brought into play in creating planning policies for the future.
Those are some of the areas for the
development of our nation for 2020.
Next week we continue by examining
some key issues on which our land-use planning system must mediate.