Planning & Development

Related policies


Achieve a transparent, democratic and environmentally sustainable town and urban planning system that will stop overdevelopment of both high-rise density and sprawl, while properly protecting our built heritage, backyards and urban amenity.(1)

"The new [sprawling] suburbs mostly lie beyond the suburban rail network, and many worry proper government investment will only follow years after residents move in, as has occurred in other estates. Adjacent suburbs already suffer from significant road and rail congestion." The Mandarin

"The assumption that high-density is environmentally superior seems to be based on intuition as no proof is provided to support this claim. Rather, considerable evidence is emerging that this is not the case." New Geography

"A COVID-19-struck community with severely limited open space has been asked to review a plan to increase the number of homes [density] by more than 70% while enduring the strictest lockdown the city has seen." Sydney Morning Herald

Policy Methods (Federal & State)

To help achieve this Sustainable Australia Party will:

  • Return real planning powers to local communities through proper engagement. This would include:
    • Empowering local citizen juries / community panels by local government area to:
      • Determine a local area plan stating the level of overall development (including total dwelling number, density, height limits, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and green and recreational space) on a 10-year basis
      • Deliver new community infrastructure before any more housing is approved (including new schools, hospitals, public transport, roads, recreational and sporting facilities, green space, etc)
      • Determine projects proposed outside of the scope of the local plan, including State-significant projects, to ensure any trade-offs are reflective of community desires
      • Ensure that planning and zoning changes adhere to relevant environmental and heritage regulations

“There is global concern about narrowing opportunities to influence where people live, to influence their street, their neighbourhood, their city. Those narrowing opportunities are a source of frustration for local residents.” Westender

But people moving into those areas say it takes more than a bunch of rapidly constructed houses to create a community. “So here’s what’s missing,” said Angela Van Dyke of the Riverstone Neighbourhood Centre and Community Aid Service. “Everything. Public education. Public transport. Good urban design. Livability.

  • Legislate to ensure that local planning policies and decisions cannot be overturned by State Government ministers, government departments, or 'independent' panels (which if maintained would need to be reformed to ensure majority community representation), tribunals and boards

"Perceptions that the appointees themselves are individuals who are first and foremost loyal to the developer cause, and will forever be sympathetic to industry over communities in applying discretion, has added fuel to the fire of community opposition to developments." WA Today

"These boards are appointed from well-established business networks and mates’ clubs. There is little about these appointments that points to a commitment to and having a background in this city’s urban planning or heritage." City News

  • Ensure all developments avoid and protect all habitats of threatened, vulnerable and endangered native species
  • Stabilise Australia’s population size as soon as practicable (also see Sustainable Population & immigration policy)

"We can stabilise our population and take this demand for housing pressure off immediately...It is simply a federal government policy decision." Redland City Bulletin

  • Capture for the public the land value gains (unearned profits) from planning and rezoning, rather than gifting them to private sector developers. This would include:
    • Introducing an ACT-style 75% developer 'betterment tax' in all states on the total land value gain (between current zoning use and the new approved use) received from favourable land re-zonings. The tax would be applicable only at the time of a new planning approval. This tax reflects the fact that the value of the new property rights allowing higher value developments is created by the community through the political process(2)
  • Impose a moratorium on housing sprawl
  • Ensure that any urban 'infill' or 'renewal' and infill is not at the expense of our built heritage, backyards, tree canopies and urban amenity
  • Reject the myth that high-rise density is either environmentally sustainable, has little or no sprawling ecological footprint, or is preferable to ending Australia’s rapid growth in population (also see Economy policy)
  • Preserve and regenerate tree canopies in our cities, suburbs and towns, including mandating no annual net reduction in tree canopy in all local government areas

"That lemon-scented gum is expected to be cut down to make way for townhouses..."

  • Properly account for and report on the increasing per unit costs of providing infrastructure to communities in already built areas
  • Remove caps on developer infrastructure charges and give local and state governments the flexibility to charge developers the real cost of infrastructure delivery
  • Properly assess the risks of increasing and high density in relation to the spread of diseases, including pandemics
  • Preserve, rehabilitate or plant corridors of biodiversity in new developments, in accordance with fire regulations, to both preserve wildlife habitat and provide recreational opportunities for local residents.
  • Ensure that new and existing homes and associated landscapes adapt to latest innovations in thermal and water efficiency and ecological design, including north facing, effective insulation, solar panels and water tanks
  • Replace private building certifiers (or equivalent in each state/territory such as building surveyors) with local government-employed public certifiers
  • Impose a moratorium on planning rezoning for higher intensity uses, such as from rural conservation to farming zone, or farming to residential

"Up to 60 per cent of farmland in western Sydney has been lost in the past decade, largely swallowed by development."

  • Ban new residential development in flood-prone areas
  • Penalise developers that submit planning proposals and development applications outside of local planning guidelines including height limits


  1. Overdevelopment in the form of both sprawl and densification.
  2. This policy has been successfully functioning in the ACT since 1971.

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