Australian planning system reform: tinkering at the edges or instrumental change?

Kristian Ruming*, Nicole Gurran, Paul Maginn, Robin Goodman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The past two decades have been characterized by the extensive reform of planning systems across Australia. These reform initiatives have sought to address the perceived failings and inadequacies of planning. State and, increasingly, federal governments have identified the regulatory burden of the planning system as a barrier to urban and regional development and broader economic performance. In this chapter we examine the trends and objectives of planning system reform across Australia. Planning system reform comes to represent part of a broader economic reform agenda which has increasingly promoted limited state intervention and the virtues of the market. The influence of the private development sector in driving this agenda is significant. Planning system reform has sought to promote economic performance by reducing complexity, bureaucracy and time delays. As such, “cutting red tape” has become a central mantra of Australian planning system reform. In efforts to reduce the regulatory burden of planning, two central themes have recurred throughout reform efforts: “simplification” of planning rules through standardization, and “independence” of decision making through the appointment of expert panels. However, there appears to be a growing disjuncture between the objectives and instruments of planning system reform and the goals strategic planning. As such, we conclude this chapter by identifying a number of concerns about the impact of planning system reform on Australian cities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge handbook of Australian urban and regional planning
EditorsNeil Sipe, Karen Vella
Place of PublicationNew York ; London
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781317604631, 9781315748054
ISBN (Print)9781138813540
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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