The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) have released a response or summary of the stakeholder submissions to the Design and Place SEPP: Explanation of Intended Effect.
Unsurprisingly, industry-based groups called for less prescription and more flexibility, while community and local government expressed concern that the proposed principles-based approach enabled too much subjectivity and gives too much flexibility.
It’s an age-old contest: rigour vs flexibility. Oddly enough, with both camps arguing for more ‘certainty’.
The next step: The DPIE proposes to consider the submissions and prepare a Draft Design and Place SEPP for further public exhibition later in 2021. It is proposed that draft revisions of the guides, being Apartment Design Guide and the BASIX, will be exhibited at the same time, as well as the proposed Urban Design Guide and Design Review Guide.
Obviously, there is a lot more reading to come. We can only hope that ‘fortune favours the brave’ and the DPIE will not retreat to an overly prescriptive (or tick-the-box) position. A principles-based approach would allow for development design that responds to the existing or future desired context, and not development regulated by blind-adherence to development standards (height, wall height, number of storeys, FSR, setbacks etc) or involve the mental gymnastics of navigating a clause 4.6 variation.