LOCAL PLANNING PROVISIONS: 
COMMUNITIES CAN ACT BEFORE THE LOCAL PLANNING PROVISIONS ARE SET IN CONCRETE

 
The deadline for submissions on the Draft State Planning Provisions closed on 18 May.  Friends of the East Coast Inc and many other organisations made submissions, and we have posted some of these on this website.  The Tasmanian Planning Commission has 90 days or more to prepare a report for the planning Minister and will be holding public hearings in Burnie, Launceston and Hobart.  There has been considerable backlash against the Draft SPPs.
 
However, the State Government wants the New Tasmanian Planning Scheme in place by the end of next year.  This means local councils will need to prepare their parts of the Scheme, their Local Planning Provisions (LPPs) later this year.  Councils will already be thinking about their LPPs now.  Friends of the East Coast suggest the community should be thinking about their LPPs too. 
 
There is an opportunity over the next 3 months or so for the community to put forward their ideas  about what they want to see in their LPPs, rather than waiting for their council who will be preparing their draft LPPs behind closed doors.
 
The State Planning Provisions are clearly not a Planning Scheme.  They are simply a set of regulations for 22 Zones and 15 Codes.  The only way planning schemes can be made local is to ensure the LPPs reflect community interests, local planning features and preferences.  The good news is that “Where there is a conflict between a Local Planning Provision and the State Planning Provisions, the Local Planning Provision prevails.”  (clause 5.5.3 SPPs). 
 
Friends of the East Coast provides below some ideas for East Coast LPPs.  Some of these suggestions may be controversial.  In line with Friends of the East Coast’s objective to provide an information service to the community, we offer some ideas for discussion, and would be pleased to receive feedback and suggestions.

An East Coast Planning Scheme?
 
All along the East Coast there are a range of common planning issues.  Currently planning is managed mainly by the East Coast Councils: Break O’Day, Glamorgan & Spring Bay, and Dorset.  What are the benefits and risks of having the whole of the East Coast under the umbrella of a single planning scheme - an East Coast Planning Scheme?
 
Such a Scheme would require co-operation between the East Coast municipalities to develop a single planning scheme.  Would this lead to greater protection of the East Coast environment and provide better planning outcomes?  In the past each community has fought for their own planning controls.  For instance, the Break O’Day community has been successful in having a 1 km coastal exclusion zone for further development. 

 

 

 

The SPPs will increase pressure for less restrictive developments, particularly for tourism.  A single East Coast Planning Scheme will only be of benefit if there is real community involvement in the preparation of planning principles adopted in East Coast Local Planning Provisions.
 
To contribute to discussion of the idea of an East Coast Planning Scheme, Friends of the East Coast proposes the following planning principles:

  • the whole of the East Coast be considered a region of high environmental and scenic value to be protected for future generations
  • sub-division within 1 km of high water mark prohibited outside residential living type areas
  • new residential sub-division be located in existing serviced areas only; further ribbon development prohibited
  • major tourism developments be located in existing serviced areas only
  • a Scenic Corridor be declared for the Tasman Highway between Orford and St Helens outside the residential living type areas
  • a Habitat Corridor be declared along the East Coast and where practical encourage links between existing conservation reserves including privately owned reserves

Local Planning Provisions
 
Local Planning Provisions (LPPs) provide an opportunity to incorporate local planning needs and preferences.  Within LPPs there are a number of possible ways to specify special conditions, uses, etc.  One of these is a Specific Area Plan.
 
For instance, the Low Density Residential Zone will allow multiple dwellings on allotments.  Currently Binalong Bay, Falmouth and parts of Beaumaris are zoned Low Density Residential.  However, by declaring a Specific Area Plan for any or all of these settlements, it would be feasible to prohibit multiple dwellings.
 
In similar ways other local planning features and preferences can be incorporated into LPPs.  Communities could take the opportunity now to put forward their preferences.  The 1 km prohibition zone for sub-division rule within the current Break O’Day Planning Scheme does not appear in the State Planning Provisions.  For this rule to continue it will have to be incorporated in Break O’Day’s LPPs.
 
Environmental Living Zones to be re-zoned
 
The Environmental Living Zone disappears in the new Planning Scheme.  These areas will have to be re-zoned by each council in their LPPs.  Within Break O’Day the following communities currently are zoned Environmental Living:

 
Within Break O’Day there is 68.3 km2 of land zoned Environmental Living which has a minimum lot size of 20ha.  All of this land will have to be re-zoned.  The State Government’s stated intention is to replace this zone by the Landscape Conservation Zone which has a minimum lot size of 50ha and permits only a single dwelling.  Councils may have different intentions.
 
The Break O’Day Council has already telegraphed its concern about this transition with a staff report saying “this will not comfort those who purchased blocks with a view to subdividing and/or residing in their dream tree/sea change location as a permitted use under the Environmental Living Zone” (BODC Agenda Item 04/16.15.4 April 2016).  The Break O’Day Council already sees a solution around the limits of the Landscape Conservation Zone by incorporating a Specific Area Plan within the Local Planning Provisions, and therefore allow sub-divisions below 50ha.  This defeats the purpose of the Landscape Conservation Zone but may satisfy the sub-dividing dreamers.
 
Friends of the East Coast supports the transition of the Environmental Living Zone to the Landscape Conservation Zone.  The Tasmanian Greens (refer Tasmanian Greens submission on Draft SPPs) also support this transition and also warn against attempts to re-zone as Rural Living A or B, which have minimum lot sizes of 1ha and 2ha respectively.  (The Greens recommend the minimum lots should be increased to 5ha).
 
Developments, e.g. buildings, in the new Landscape Conservation Zone are to be permitted up to 10m elevation below a skyline or ridgeline.  The Greens recommend increasing the skyline protection to 100m in elevation.
 
While the Landscape Conservation Zone permits only single residential buildings with a height limit of 6m, and a minimum lot size of 50ha, very weak Performance Criteria allow smaller lot sizes down to 20ha.  Both the Greens and the North East Bioregional Network recommend removal of the 20ha allowance.
 
Another alternative re-zoning would be to replace Environmental Living Zone with Rural Zone which has a minimum lot size of 40ha.  The Tasmanian Greens recommend increasing the Rural Zone minimum lot size to 100ha.
 
Thus a range of options are possible for the re-zoning of the Environmental Living Zone.  Communities and residents would be wise to put forward their preferred re-zoning before the Council makes decisions on the re-zoning.  Once the LPPs are decided they are more or less set in concrete.
 
Application of the Scenic Code
 
The Scenic Code can be applied to road corridors or areas within specific zones.  Within the East Coast most of Tasman Highway between Orford and St Helens could be considered scenic.  Certainly sections of the Tasman Highway within 1 km of the coast, which should be protected from any further sub-division, should qualify for Scenic Road Corridor.  It makes sense that if sub-division is prohibited, then the landscape should be protected.
 
However, in the Draft SPPs the Scenic Code allows a wide range of exemptions which lessen its effectiveness.  Most glaring is the exemption of planting or destruction of vegetation in the following:

 
It also seems strange that planting and destruction of vegetation are treated as equivalent operations.  One would think planting and removal are different.
 
Further, developments and destruction of vegetation is prohibited within 50m elevation of the skyline in a Scenic Protection Area, except if it is not “unreasonable”.  This is the “Mohawk” effect, but it doesn’t even apply to the above exemptions.
 
The exemptions are so broad as to make the Scenic Code almost meaningless.
 
The Tasmanian Greens and the North East Bioregional Network have recommended removal of most of the exemptions.  The Greens have sought definition of “unreasonable reduction in scenic value”.
 
Friends of the East Coast believes the Scenic Code should apply to most section of the Tasman Highway along the East Coast, complementing the Great Eastern Drive.
 
Permitted Uses in the Environmental Management Zone
 
The Environmental Management Zone applies only to public or reserved land, such as National Parks and State Reserves.  As such this zone should provide the highest level of environmental protection.  Instead it has been virtually hijacked by the State Government and handed over to government approved developments; such as, tourist operations, pleasure boat facilities, sports & recreation and accommodation.  Clearly it is questionable whether these uses are appropriate in National Parks or State Reserves.  
 
And further, the public and local authorities have no right to comment on or control developments in these zones.  Friends of the East Coast believe the permitted uses for this zone are far too generous and contrary to the legal Objectives of the Planning Act, which requires the community to be included in planning and resource management.
 
The impotent Natural Assets Code
 
The stated purpose of the Natural Assets Code is to protect natural assets, such as, waterways, wetlands, lakes, coastal areas, native vegetation and native fauna. 
 
However, for vegetation and fauna, the protection is restricted to threatened vegetation species or species significant for threatened fauna habitat, only as officially prescribed under relevant Acts.  This is called priority vegetation.  This limitation essentially makes the Code a “Claytons” code – non threatened native species are not protected.
 
The Natural Assets Code is the proposed replacement of the Biodiversity Code, but falls short of what is required for the protection of natural assets.  Exemptions within this code are far too broad.  
 
Friends of the East Coast maintain it is not appropriate to exempt clearance of priority vegetation within public parks, within National Parks or within State or Council reserves.  The exemptions need revision and mostly deleted.  Friends of the East Coast, the Greens and the North East Bioregional Network all recommend extensive amendment of the Code.
 
Summarising:
 
Local communities and residents along the East Coast have an opportunity over the next weeks and months to express their views about the application of the new Tasmanian Planning Scheme.  Early submissions to councils may be more effective before waiting for councils to announce their Local Planning Provisions.
 

  • The Gardens
  • Four Mile Creek
  • Seymour
  • and parts of Beaumaris, Scamander, St Marys
  • existing pasture land
  • crop production land
  • public gardens
  • public parks
  • National Parks
  • State Reserves

(Recently the Break O’Day Council has re-endorsed its support for this rule.  Refer BODC letter to Beaumaris residents 23 May 2016.)