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SA planning reform – what are the opportunities for WSUD?

March 28, 2015

The planning reform provides the greatest opportunity in the past 20 years to embed water sensitive urban design (WSUD) within the South Australian planning system and unlock the potential of water to transform our urban landscape.

The government has released its response to the Expert Panel’s final report, The Planning System We Want, which includes a summary of the government’s response to each of the recommendations and outlines a framework for implementation.

So what are some of the opportunities under the planning reform to better integrate WSUD and further the objectives of Water Sensitive SA?

Reform 5 – Create in legislation a new framework for state directions

Excellent policy that is fundamental to achieving a liveable, resilient, sustainable and productive community – a water sensitive city – resides within state government strategies like Water for Good, South Australian Water Sensitive Urban Design Policy and South Australia: A Better Place to Live – Promoting and protecting our community’s health and wellbeing, together with the vast array of climate change adaptation plans within metropolitan and regional South Australia.  Providing a mechanism to draw these policies into the planning system, as intended at their inception, will be a significant achievement of the reform and will embed the state’s strategic aspirations within future urban renewal and growth areas.

Reform 6 – Reshape planning documents on a regional basis

A move towards regional online plans would make way for web-based assessment tools that have the capacity to streamline development assessment – for example an  online development assessment tool could be established for stormwater management solutions for small scale or simple applications akin to STORM calculator, Victoria (hosted by Melbourne Water).

Reform 7 – Establish a single state-wide menu of planning rules

A fundamental limitation of the existing Residential Code is the inability of Councils to require developers to provide suitable stormwater management solutions to control runoff quantitites, which is overloading stormwater drainage networks, and is contributing to local flooding issues in many situations.

Under this reform there is potential for deemed-to-comply solutions for stormwater management to form part of the design standards.

The WSUD Technical Manual could be adapted to form part of the suite of guidelines.  Water Sensitive SA has agreed to be the custodian with responsibility for updating the WSUD Technical Manual, a review and update of which is expected to commence in early 2016.

Reform 16 – Reinforce and expand precinct planning

Consideration of urban water management at the precinct scale can maximise the benefits for the developer through efficiency gains and, most importantly, create more liveable places for the community. Proposed streetscape guidelines will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the potential of WSUD to transform urban landscapes.

Reform 18 – Integrate open space and the public realm in the planning system

This reform is essential to enhancing the liveability of greater Adelaide and the regions. WSUD is typically an integral component of high quality open space and is increasingly featuring in the broader public realm. Recognition of the importance of the role of WSUD in the delivery of quality places that are valued by the community can be better reflected in the planning system and related policy, to underpin this reform.

What other opportunities to facilitate the widespread adoption of WSUD exist through the reform? Email Mellissa Bradley, Program Manager, with your thoughts.

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