Reform to planning systems to ensure construction activity can continue to operate at its “usual pace” has been agreed to at the National Planning Ministers’ Forum.
State and local planning systems and the development approvals pipeline must continue to function during the Covid-19 crisis, federal minister Alan Tudge said in a release on Monday.
The agreement sets out a series of principles, including consistency between jurisdictions and the instruction that “all reasonable effort” must be made to maintain the usual pace of planning approvals.
“Amendments to our planning systems will ensure that governments and the development community can support the economic recovery effort,” Tudge said.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Monday show that up to 750,000 jobs may have been lost between mid-March and early April—with jobs recorded by the ABS declining 6 per cent.
Infrastructure has been yielded as a protective measure for the economy, with South Australia the first state to bring forward $350 million in key infrastructure projects to help offset job and economic losses.
New South Wales has already taken initial steps to add flexibility to the planning system in response to Covid-19, fast-tracking development applications and rezonings. The state government has also waived $50 million worth of construction operation fees over the next 12 months.
Further announcements set to be made to the state’s planning system acceleration program are expected in coming weeks.
Developer lobby group the Urban Taskforce used Monday’s announcement to push for further relaxations.
“The status quo will not sling-shoot the economy out of recession, it will exacerbate it,” Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest said.
“There are billions of dollars worth of private sector investment capital which have been stuck in the planning system and therefore not flowed into the NSW economy.”
As the country enters its first recession in 30 years, Australian governments have announced a collective $339.5 billion in stimulus—equivalent to about 17 per cent of the economy.