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ShapingSEQ regional plan gives ‘stakeholders’ a bigger say than citizens

Brian Feeney writes in The Conversation (1.12.16) about how the draft plan for Southeast Queensland largely takes a 'provide land for the predicted demand' approach, which assumes regional planning is a type of technical process best left to the experts.

'Special interest groups have had much more influence than the wider community on the new regional plan for Southeast Queensland. A draft of the plan, ShapingSEQ, was recently released for comment. Prior input from the wider community was limited to submitting “thought bubbles” about the region without having the benefit of any report card on how the previous plan had performed.

'This process did not accurately gauge community concerns and submitters were not a representative sample. Perhaps it gave people the feeling they’d “had a say”. The process just as likely reinforced cynicism about government consultation.

'Regional planning in Southeast Queensland began in the early 1990s when councils in the region signed up to the Regional Framework for Growth Management. This was a non-binding set of guidelines promoted by the state government to manage land-use change.

'Subsequently, this framework evolved into a statutory regional plan in 2005. It is noteworthy that consultation in the lead-up to the 2005 plan included the public release of discussion papers with options for the region’s future. The initial focus was very much on getting southeast Queensland councils to accept the need for regional planning. At that time, the role of the wider community was relatively minor.

'A 1990 meeting of representatives from government, business, trade unions, professional groups and community organisations was an important impetus for starting the regional planning process. This “stakeholder” model of community engagement has been the dominant form of consultation ever since.'

 

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