Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to shape your neighbourhood?

If you plan on making a difference in your local neighbourhood, it is important to participate in local, State (or Territory) or Federal government development assessment processes. The are many stages set up during these planning and approval phases that allow for public comment and your comments can in fact create or stop developments.

Local governments, for example, will have sections of their websites indicating what development applications and planning processes they currently have 'on their books' and which ones you can provide comments on. Also here in Queensland you may notice large noticeboards (public notice) on the side of the road adjacent to open land, old houses, etc. These signs indicate an applicant is interested in either changing the type or intensity of development allowed on that land. This public notice is basically an advertisement seeking public comment on the development application and this is an opportune time to participate.

To make a difference in this process it is important to know how to make your comments really count. There isn't much point in just saying that you don't want the development, but rather have a look at the planning scheme, regional documents and other relevant information and providing justifications against these documents why the development should or should not be approved.

As I said there are numerous development approval processes where public comment are sought and to make a difference you should be engaged in all of these. Some sources where you may find public comment opportunities include:
  • The Commonwealth government's referral process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999;
  • local government development processes under Queensland's Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (likely to be advertised on your local government's website);
  • State government planning policy documents (often distributed across a number of government agencies, but inclusive of the Queensland Department of Infrastructure and Planning and the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management); 
  • Infrastructure providers' websites, such as Energex, Powerlink, Queensland Rail, Ergon, Origin, as they will be required to have their environmental impact assessments available for comment; 
  • large scale development agents' websites, for example Stocklands; and
  • local environment and legal groups, such as Environmental Defender's Office. 
So don't complain about what is happening to your neighbourhood but rather participate in the process. Don't wait till someone is building something you don't like because you will have no leg to stand on and the process will continue no matter how much you complain. Give yourself and your views a fighting chance and participate early. Pin It

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