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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Regional planning institutions and the public decision making process : a reconsideration of the case in New South Wales, Australia Aleksandric, Vladimir


Regional planning and its associated institutional structure has been given ad hoc consideration in New South Wales over the last thirty years. At the Federal level moves towards regionalization of planning have been based on party political platforms rather than carefully considered planning objectives. The States have traditionally held the mandate for regional planning, however, it has been circumscribed by the rigid and detailed procedures involved in statutory planning. Attempts at instituting regional planning have occurred without adequate recognition of the nature of regional planning, nor an adequate consideration of what the regional scale problems entail. This thesis evaluates a recently proposed planning system in New South Wales in the light of a reconsideration of the concept of regional planning and the regional problems that exist in New South Wales. It is hypothesized that regional planning is an appropriate device through which to achieve an integration of functions and areal reform, Regional planning is defined as a continuous process at the supra urban/sub state scale. It is public planning based on law which is carried out by public institutions and is capable of effecting change in society's milieu. Regional problems are classified into three broad categories: problems of service delivery arising from an urban/ rural dichotomy; problems of land use conflict and resource management; and problems of area and function. Most of these generic problem areas were seen to result from the inability of institutions to adequately reconcile area with function. It was contended that regional planning involves the reciprocal adjustment of function and area through areal reform and simultaneous functional co-ordination and integration. The regional level is the level at which a balance is found between the 'efficiency' of functional specialization, and some rationalization of areal particularism. Based on such an articulation of the cause of regional problems, together with the consideration of the nature of regional planning, six principles of regional planning are identified as being essential for its success. Regional planning: *should be based upon the identification of regional needs and the articulation of areal problems *needs to fulfill national regional policy, needs to be co-ordinated with State policy, and should attempt a degree of co-ordination with the private sector *should facilitate the co-ordination and integration of functions *must possess a statutory basis on the one hand, and on the other, must remain flexible *must explicitly recognize the process of regionalism *regions should possess an adequate fiscal base upon which an institution can carry out its planning mandate. These principles are the criteria against which the proposed regional planning scheme in New South Wales is assessed. The following were the main observations made: - The regional planning that was envisaged by the proposed scheme was based on a 'top-down' and rigid statutory framework, obviously still influenced by the rigidities of the existing statutory land use planning system. - The proposed institutional structure was found to be not politically accountable at the regional level, not autonomous in decision making, lacked executive authority over regional matters, and lacked community involvement in the mainstream of the planning process. As a result its potential for need identification and priority resolution was considered limited. - No institutional mechanism exists for program integration at the regional level. Based on these findings some modifications to the institutional structure were prescribed so that it could satisfy the proposed criteria. The most important were: - the responsibility for regional planning should rest with an independent regional planning body (but responsible to the State government) in each region, composed of local government and regional community representatives. - regional level sub-committees should be established in the areas of industrial resource development, social development, and natural resource development, so as to reflect planning structures at the State departmental and Cabinet levels. - a regional program committee composed of the regional planner and sub-committee representatives should provide liason between articulated regional needs and public program delivery. - an extensive consultative structure should be established with individuals, groups, and private and government agencies. These modifications of the proposed institutional structures can be viewed as the particular conclusions to the thesis. Under conditions comparable to those in NSW, the six principles of regional planning are the generic conclusions and can be considered as essential preconditions for successful regional planning and regional progress.

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