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Welcome To Fox and Chickens

Issues Raised by Fox Studios Australia

Issues of Governance

Governance is a broad term concerned with the way in which decisions are made. In NSW, decisions about building and land use development are made using a series of checklists known as SEPP - State Environmental Planning Policy. These have been put in place to ensure that developments are appropriate to the surrounding area and that all the elements contained in a particular checklist have been accounted for. For instance, State Environmental Planning Policy 10 is aimed at ensuring a certain amount of housing is available at low-cost - if a development is SEPP 10, then it must provide low cost housing. ANother example of a different SEPP

All of the SEPPs are based upon a foundation called SEPP 33.

SEPP 33 outlines the requirements to which all SEPPS must conform. It says no development may:

  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x

However, owing to the actions of of both Federal and NSW State Governments, the way in which decisions about developments are usually made no longer apply to the Fox Studios Australia site. Fox Studios Australia requested and received what they refer to as an "unfettered production environment" through the strategic dismantling of SEPP 33, and the adoption of a new SEPP that would apply only to FSA - SEPP 47.

In June 1995, the Premier indicated that zoning of the site was to be varied through “state environmental planning policy” (SEPP). SEPP47 was gazetted in November 1995. This was completed without public consultation. SEPP47 made it permissible for the site to become a Film Studio and bypasses usual DA process (through local councils). It is now a “non-designated development”, with the sole consent authority being the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning

SEPP 47 outlines Fox Studios Australia's immunity from all other SEPPs with particular reference to SEPP 33 including:

  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x

Many of the issues raised by this unprecedented deconstruction of the NSW planning policy frameworks were identified by the then NSW Auditor General, Tony Harris, in a report that was made public in 1997.

His report notes that :

If there is any conflict between SEPP47 and any other instruments or requirements, SEPP 47 prevails. p 89 – 10.4

The adoption of SEPP 47 was not the only change to the governance of the Fox Studios Australia site. Changes to the status of the site, from 'scheduled' premises to a 'non-designated' development also have an impact on the way in which the FSA site operates. Unlike a site that is 'scheduled', a 'non-designated development' does not have to comply with rigorous guidelines.

“Although filming had taken place at the Showground for many decades, a film studio was “prohibited” by the existing site planning instruments” (p 88 - 10.3), and that the Royal Agricultural Society "had the status of being a scheduled premises requiring an EPA Licence" (p 92 - 10.).

Activities that are routinely carried out on the site of a film studio, would ordinarily be subject to a wide array of monitoring and reporting requirements. Welding, manufacturing of fibreglass, spray painting, aluminium and metal powder coating, and use of explosives/pyrotechnics qualify as industrial activity, and are restricted from operation within an area with high residential density.

Sentence that introduces the financial gains that were granted to FSA and the actions of a federal minister in changing the requirement:

“The EPA did indicate that based upon information provided by FOX it was unlikely that there will be a requirement for EPA Licensing”, and that “[T]he receipt of Commonwealth funding of $7m towards site remediation was originally dependant on undertaking an EIS of the proposed Fox use of the site. However, following a determination by the Minister administrating the Commonwealth Environment Protective (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974, the requirement for an EIS was removed” 5

What Else Has Been Dismantled?

What are the effects that arise from this demolition of planning policy?





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