Proposed New Strategic Planning Direction
The purpose of this report is to seek Council endorsement to progress a new land use planning strategy and scheme for Shoalhaven, following consideration at the 26 November 2022 extraordinary Strategic Planning Working Party meeting (workshop).
1. Endorse the preparation of revised land use planning strategies and Local Environmental Plan, Development Control Plan and Developer Contributions Plan (collectively a Planning scheme) for Shoalhaven City.
2. Include in the work in Recommendation 1 an investigation and inclusion of local character.
3. Receive a further report that provides a Project Plan and Terms of Reference for this work, which informs the Council on how this work would be best achieved, including scope, timing/staging and resourcing.
Since 2018, the current iteration of the Strategic Planning Works Program (SPWP) has been reported to Council annually to set the Strategic Planning direction for the coming financial year. The SPWP aims to guide Council’s Strategic Planning work by setting out current and planned projects and anticipated tasks (such as responding to planning reforms), helping to prioritise projects and allocate resources. In simple terms, the projects that are contained in the SPWP are predominantly undertaken under the provisions of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (e.g., Local Environmental Plan (LEP), Development Control Plan (DCP), Contributions Plan (CP)) or are related strategy or policy work that could ultimately lead to a specific project of this nature.
As a result of community feedback, pandemic experiences and the resultant demographic pressures/growth that is now being experienced, Council continues to receive a range of feedback about the need for new and contemporary strategic land use plans (i.e., growth management strategies) and planning scheme (LEP, DCP, CP) for Shoalhaven.
At its 25 July 2022 Ordinary meeting, Council considered the proposed 2022-2023 SPWP. It also considered the potential opportunity to undertake a holistic review of its land use planning strategy across the City that could also inform a new or alternate direction for Shoalhaven’s planning scheme (LEP, DCP, CP) into the future. Ultimately, Council resolved (MIN22.465) to:
- Receive the report for information.
- Defer to the Strategic Planning Working Party to discuss and consider the Planning Instruments for the City and appropriate SPWP for term of Council;
- Directs the CEO (or nominee) to consider the ways this could be undertaken and delivered in a timely manner;
- Continue working under the current SPWP until outcomes of the Working Party are reported back to Council.
In response to Part 2 of the resolution, an extraordinary Strategic Planning Working Party meeting (workshop) was held on 26 November 2022. The workshop identified that a dedicated focus was needed on the following key priorities (not exclusively, and all not necessarily managed by Strategic Planning):
- Affordable housing.
- Better connectivity (e.g., transport, between villages, footpaths).
- Climate proofing (housing and infrastructure).
- Contemporary planning controls for Nowra CBD and Riverfront.
- Family focused tourism.
- Growth management and housing supply (infill and greenfield opportunities).
- Improvements to the infrastructure contributions system.
- Nowra bypass and community recovery.
- Protecting coastal villages and rural land.
- Protecting tree canopies and corridors.
- Resolving legacy issues in the existing scheme (e.g., Nebraska Estate).
The general consensus of the Working Party was that a contemporary and wholistic review of Council’s existing land use planning strategy and scheme is now needed to address these priorities, and that a range of existing projects may need to be removed from the SPWP whilst other mandatory tasks will need to continue. As such, this report seeks endorsement from Council to commence the preparation of a new land use planning scheme.
A further report will be presented to the Strategic Planning Working Party and then Council as soon as possible, to enable consideration of:
- A Project Plan to deliver the new scheme and advise how this could be best achieved, including scope, timing/staging and resourcing and what could realistically be achieved in the current term of Council.
- A Terms of Reference to outline the parameters and commitments associated with a review of the scheme.
At this stage, it may be advantageous for the remaining term of Council to focus on reviewing and updating existing land use planning strategies and implementing character provisions which would set the strategic direction for Shoalhaven into the future. This direction could then facilitate a subsequent comprehensive review of Shoalhaven’s planning scheme (LEP, DCP, CP) in subsequent terms of Council. Opportunities in this regard will be discussed further in the next report to Council.