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Among the aims of our Society is promoting the preservation and conservation of landscape designs, buildings and other works designed by or having an association with the Griffins. Thus the Society is active in many spheres of environmental and heritage conservation throughout Australia, and we maintain a keen interest in preserving the character of the Griffin Conservation Area in Castlecrag.

We are particularly concerned about the potential impact of the new ‘reforms’ to the state planning system currently being proposed by the NSW Government, which has released draft legislation in the shape of two Planning Bills scheduled for introduction to Parliament within the next three months. These new bills would change the planning system of NSW drastically and many of the pillars on which it’s built would be removed.

The proposal to centralise decision making with the Minister and Director-General for Planning & Infrastructure would remove many of the checks and balances of the present system.

Major effects would be to rob communities of the ability to participate in planning decisions at their local level, and to reduce the need for decision-makers to consider the social, environmental and heritage impacts of new development. We are particularly fearful that protection for conservation areas and much of our heritage will be stripped away. Repeal of the EP&A Act 1979 means that after a transition period, there would no longer be Development Control Plans (DCPs), and we can find nothing in the exposure bill that might give protection to heritage conservation areas or even items of local heritage.

In order to be better informed about the proposed laws, we have joined the Better Planning Network (BPN), established in August 2012 and which now, less than 10 months later, includes close to 400 community groups.

In the BPN Key Issues and Submission Guide, it states:
– “Local plans must protect all existing heritage-listed items (both State and local) and all heritage conservation areas currently identified in Local Environmental Plans. Strategic planning must also be comprehensively undertaken to identify currently unlisted heritage and establish new heritage conservation areas in the future. As it stands, the Planning Bill contains no recognition of the importance of Heritage Conservation Areas and no indication that Heritage Conservation Areas or items of local heritage significance will be afforded any protection.
– Consideration must be given to creating a heritage-specific conservation zone for Heritage Conservation Areas, within which any development would be automatically merit-assessed.
– Complying and code assessable development must be prevented in environmentally sensitive areas, within Heritage Conservation Areas, in the immediate vicinity of any heritage item”…
– The impetus for the new planning system is a reactive response to the need for more housing which tilts the planning system in favour of the development industry at the cost of community wellbeing, our environment and heritage.
– A convincing argument has not been established by the State Government for many of the proposed reforms which are essentially using the planning system to drive economic growth. This seems to be a direct response to pressure from the development industry, but one likely to alienate the community from planning decisions that directly affect them, diminish the role of local government in the planning process and result in detrimental impacts on the built, heritage and natural environments”.
Prescriptive controls such as maximum floor space ratio (FSR) limits and height limits are essential to restrict the size of development in conservation areas. They should not be removed as proposed in the draft legislation.
The changes proposed to our planning system are radical and threaten heritage conservation areas including the Griffin Conservation Area. We urge you to make your voice heard on this matter. Comments on the new planning system close on Friday 28 June 2013 at
– or post your submission to: New Planning System, NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure, GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2011
Even more important is to send a copy or write to:
– Premier Barry O’Farrell MP Parliament of New South Wales
– your local Member of Parliament, Parliament of New South Wales.
Their name and address can be found at:
– Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile, MLC, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000
– The Hon. Paul Green, MLC, Parliament House, Macquarie Street
Sydney NSW 2000
– Federal Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water and Population and Communities, and Minister for the Arts,
The Hon. Tony Burke MP, Member for Watson, NSW
PO Box 156, Roselands, NSW, 2196

Further information
Better Planning Network Key Issues and Submission Guide, June 2013: