Thursday, 25 February 2021 12:22

WSROC writes to Ministers on Design and Place SEPP, BASIX

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has written to the Ministers for Planning and Public Spaces, and Energy and Environment seeking greater involvement of local government in the Design and Place SEPP and review of BASIX – both of which promise significant changes to the NSW Planning system.

In January 2021, WSROC wrote to Ministers Stokes and Kean to advocate for the following outcomes:

  1. Ensure development of the Design and Place SEPP is informed by local government

Many of WSROC’s members have developed planning clauses and standards to improve resilience in their local area (e.g. increased BASIX standards for Design Excellence). Many of these clauses and standards are considered best practice and have been trialled and tested with developers. WSROC seeks commitment from the NSW Government to meaningfully engage and consult with local government from the onset of the draft SEPP development.

  1. Conduct a further BASIX review to ensure homes are built for current and future climate conditions

WSROC recognises that the importance of the BASIX SEPP in ensuring NSW is leading better, more resilient development across the state. However, to maximise the impact of the SEPP and ensure the best outcome for our communities, WSROC and its councils highlight the need for additional governance and data improvements.

 Some critical considerations as identified by councils include:

  • Ensuring BASIX uses the most current climate data, including future climate scenarios
  • Include stronger energy efficiency and thermal comfort targets
  • Include an additional performance target for thermal safety to ensure dwellings remain safe in the absence of air-conditioning – where energy costs or power outages remove this option
  • Allow local councils to impose higher or more detailed standards where local circumstances like urban heat stress warrant this consideration.

Councils have further identified the need for an independent review of BASIX governance to ensure the tool is appropriately resourced for ongoing improvement and improve the compliance process.

WSROC President, Clr Barry Calvert said, “WSROC and its councils strongly agree with Minister Stokes’ statement that ‘BASIX standards should be the baseline, not the boundary’.

“Unfortunately, under current legislation, the process for councils who wish to implement higher than BASIX standards for their local communities is highly prohibitive.

“As a result, higher than BASIX standards are rarely applied outside of Design Excellence developments. This misses the opportunity to improve the liveability of the vast new residential developments across much of Western Sydney,” said Clr Calvert.

“Similarly, WSROC understands that the intent of the new SEPP is to provide relatively few prescriptive measures, and instead focus on principles and supporting guidelines to encourage innovation.  While allowing room for innovation and place-based planning is important, setting sound minimum standards for developments is critical. Failing to do so could result in poorer development outcomes in lower-socioeconomic areas see,” he said.

WSROC is currently seeking further meetings with the Ministers and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to discuss these issues.

Last modified on Thursday, 25 February 2021 12:48