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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

This artist impression of an "infill" development for St Ives, a suburb in Ku-Ring-Gai Council, in Sydney's north, could also be a vision of the future for Perth since Western Australia authorities announced their new planning initiative, 'Directions 2031 and Beyond'. St Ives is on a rail line, as are a number of other suburbs where infill development has taken place in recent years. Municipal authorities with suburbs on suburban rail lines in Perth must be getting nervous.

The new plan echoes 'Melbourne 2030', an initiative launched along with the Urban Development Program by the Bracks Government in Victoria in 2002. While there's been a lot of public brawling associated with the New South Wales government's assumption of planning rights, with municipal leaders trashing the "undemocratic" measures taken by the state government, Melbourne's efforts in this arena seem to have generated a bit less heat. The Bligh Government in Queensland announced in May that it had established Growth Management Queensland to oversee infill development (among other things; but this issue will always be the main focus for governments keen to rein in expenditure on expensive infrastructure like railways and roads).

Brisbaneites have started to see what infill really means. There has been a fair bit of angst expressed by local residents over a planned residential development in the inner-city suburb of Milton. From the Brisbane Times in April:

The Queensland government has used controversial powers to take over planning approval for a high-rise development at Milton, in Brisbane's west.

Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe confirmed today he had "called-in" the proposal for a 31-storey building at Milton train station on the grounds that it was in the state's interest.

In 2007, New South Wales Planning Minister Frank Sartor got caught up in controversy - controversy that is implicitly referenced in the above clip - when he fought a very public battle against Ku-Ring-Gai Council over the assumption of planning laws. Sartor was replaced as Planning Minister following the leadership change last year which saw Kristina Keneally become Premier. Tony Kelly is now Planning Minister in NSW.

Western Australia Planning Minister John Day is playing down the future potential for friction, as WA Today reported yesterday:

"The legislation which has gone through Parliament recently does give the state, through the planning commission and the Department of Planning and the minister, the ability to act to require local governments to do certain things in some cases or to ensure that we can put in place the planning arrangements over and above local governments where that's appropriate to do so," he said.

"There will be a lot of consultation, including with local governments, before we make these sort of decisions but the state is now in a much stronger position to act and to respond to the needs of the community than has been the case in the past."

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