The Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania (PMAT) was officially launched in July 2017. PMAT is a network of over 50 community groups from across Tasmania, campaigning for a strategic, sustainable and integrated planning system which will serve to protect the values that makes Tasmania such a special place to live and visit.
PMAT member groups are united with common concern regarding the proposed Tasmanian Planning Scheme (TPS), which is due to come into full effect in 2018.
PMAT is not against having a single statewide planning scheme and is not anti-development. Fundamentally the problem with the TPS, is that rather than strategy-led development, development will be market-driven and ad hoc. This might be great for short-term jobs and economic growth, but does nothing to ensure the long-term prosperity of Tasmania. Our greatest economic strengths are our amenity, and natural and built heritage. The TPS puts all these special and increasingly rare values at risk.
Started by Labor and continued by the current Liberal Government, the planning ‘reforms’ introduced in Tasmania are similar to what we have seen introduced nationally: as outlined by Buxton and Godman (2014) (Ref 1): ‘There are strong connections between Victorian planning system changes and the national planning reform agenda being followed in most Australian states. Recent changes to state planning systems seek to reduce the strength of land use planning regulations, lessen the contributions of local communities, objectors and local councils to planning decisions and empower development companies.’
PMAT’s platform document and the full list of alliance member groups can be seen on PMAT’s website (www.planningmatterstas.org.au). New member groups are very welcome.
The key concerns that we have with the Tasmanian Planning Scheme are as follows:
Community health and well-being: limited provisions to promote better health for all Tasmanians.
Urban issues: Smaller block sizes, higher buildings built closer to fences, and multi-unit developments in all residential areas are allowed. Neighbourhood amenity and character, privacy and sunlight into your backyard and home are not adequately protected and your rights to challenge inappropriate developments are very limited and financially costly, increasing conflict between neighbours. Urban densification should be strategic rather than ad hoc and market driven.
National Parks & Reserves: Commercial tourism development can be approved in most National Parks and Reserves without any guarantee of public consultation, and no rights of appeal.
Affordable and social housing: No provisions to encourage development of affordable or social housing.
Rural Issues: An unprecedented range of commercial and extractive uses will be permitted in Rural Zones.
Biodiversity issues: Broad exemptions under the Natural Assets Code mean that many habitat areas will not receive protection.
Coastal Issues: Weaker rules for subdivisions and multi-unit development will put our undeveloped beautiful coastlines under greater threat.
Heritage Buildings & Heritage Landscape Issues: Limited protections for heritage places will compromise Tasmania’s important cultural precincts.
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Issues: No provision for impacts on Aboriginal heritage to be considered in a development assessment.
Lack of integration: Forestry, marine farming and dam construction remain exempt from the new scheme.
Your right to have a say: More and more uses and development will be able to occur without public consultation or rights of appeal.
Ministerial powers: The changes shift power over planning decisions into the hands of the Planning Minister and away from the Tasmanian Planning Commission, councils and the public.
PMAT has been focusing on campaigning to the 2018 state election (most likely March), but if there is sufficient motivation and energy, PMAT could become an advocacy group for planning into the long-term.
You can get involved with PMAT by:
Meeting with state politicians: Discuss why planning matters and how the changes will affect you.
Getting active on traditional media: Write to your local paper and ring/SMS talk-back radio.
Getting creative with planning hazard tape: The TPS is creating a planning hazard. This is why PMAT has printed planning hazard tape for use by local groups at events and community engagement activities, to highlight the impact of poor planning at the local level. For more visit https://www.planningmatterstas.org.au/get-creative
Donating to the campaign: All donation details can be viewed at our web site https://www.planningmatterstas.org.au/donate/
By working together, we can continue to live in one of the best places in the world.
Article by Sophie Underwood
Header image: PMAT members and supporters at the launch of the Planning Hazard Tape. Photo by Jack Redpath.
References: Michael Buxton & Robin Goodman (2014), The impact of planning ‘reform’ on the Victorian land use planning system, Australian Planner, 51:2, 132-140.
http://www.tourismnt.com.au/en/research/regional-profiles. Page 9 of the ‘Uluru & Surrounds Regional Report YE June 2015 – 2017’.
Introducing Sophie Underwood
I have grown up in Tasmania and my interest in planning started over 20 years ago at a little coastal village called Swanwick on Tasmania’s east coast near Freycinet. I have been visiting this area since I was born – for almost 50 years. It is my place. I started going to Swanwick before the Coles Bay Road was sealed and there were about six houses and nothing but old farming land, heritage buildings, bush and beautiful beaches.
As a child, I witnessed the bull dozers arrive, the bush cut down, the animals dying, the pollution of waterways, the construction of curb, guttering and street lighting, the heritage buildings totally removed and the destruction of iconic beautiful views.
Through this experience, and after numerous planning appeals, I learnt that, with great planning principles and with community and political will, development can occur as well as protecting local values. I am really hoping that this is what we could achieve through the TPS.
Growing up at Swanwick has also taught me the importance of having long-term visionary planning. As there were so few people, when cars turned up Swanwick Road I got excited as I thought visitors were coming. I could not have imagined the world we are in today, with over 300,000 people visiting Freycinet National Park per year, which is amazingly on par with visitors to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park (2).