Manufacturing certainty: the purpose of planning in New South Wales?
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 09:47 by David Fingland
This dissertation provides a detailed analysis of the manner in which the notion of certainty is identified in the land use planning system in New South Wales as portrayed by the State government as a product of its processes. It focuses on three main components of the planning process where certainty is considered to be of benefit. These are the strategic plan, the assessment and determination of development applications and implementation where the stated intention of the plan is translated into outcome. In the context of land use planning, the notion of certainty is vague depending on individual and group interest. The approach taken here therefore focuses on the feasible presence of those qualities in the planning system which could be expected to generate confidence in practical terms rather than merely as a rhetorical construct. The method undertaken employs a mix of interviews with a range of participants, a series of case studies centred on the three main areas of interest and an analysis of the material prepared in the lead up to the publication of the recent Planning White Paper and the draft Bills. The evidence indicates that at least two of the components of the planning system investigated here are not sufficiently robust or reliable to produce the confidence required to achieve the certainty claimed. These are the strategic plan and the outcomes of the process when compared with its stated aims. The third area, that related to the approvals process, is more questionable. Its output in terms of the rate of approval could be considered to be capable of providing confidence although the means employed to achieve this can be considered to be too compliant with the drive for developmentalism. The presence of certainty as an identifiable characteristic of the planning system cannot therefore be considered to be valid and the claims regularly made for it are more accurately seen as promotional rhetoric intended to justify the process itself and the need for change here defined as power used to reinforce the predictability of outcome.