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Blue Mountains News

Mayors Join Forces to Protect Local Decision Making

Source: Blue Mountains City Council
Archived 22 Oct 2017 - Posted: 24 Aug 2017
Mayors of five Councils in Sydney’s West have expressed deep concern at the NSW government’s disappointing reaction to planning future development. This comes shortly after council amalgamation changes and a lack of clarity on the role of local communities in determining future development outcomes in Western Sydney.

The Mayors –Mark Greenhill OAM (Blue Mountains), George Brticevic (Campbelltown), Wendy Waller (Liverpool), John Thain (Penrith) and Mary Lyons-Buckett (Hawkesbury) – are calling for an urgent meeting with the Premier Gladys Berejiklian to discuss what they say is a retrograde piece of legislation.

The introduction of mandatory Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels will decide all development applications worth between $5-30 million as well as other contentious proposals of lesser value. Applications under $5M will be dealt with under delegated authority to the Council CEOs.

The Mayors are also writing to Anthony Roberts Minister for Planning, Gabrielle Upton Minister for Local Government, NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley and are making representations to NSW Governor His Excellency General the Hon David Hurley urging a review of the process that led to the decision.

“Our communities are accommodating rapid population growth. We believe it is essential for them to retain a say in shaping how their suburbs develop. That only happens when their elected council representatives have a role in determining development applications in their own LGAs. If councillors get it wrong they can be voted out at an election,” said the Mayors.

The Mayors will ask the Premier and the Governor to defer the legislation until they can meet together to design a process that empowers and protects local communities – instead of silencing them.

“There was no debate around this legislation, no community consultation. Surely this is a removal of the democratic process at a very basic level – denying community-elected representatives a say on deciding local development applications.

“With regards to Minister Roberts’ comments on corruption, corruption should not be tolerated at any level of government.  But to tar all councils with the same brush is not fair, and disingenuous at best,” said the Mayors.

“Let’s not define anti-corruption measures as anti-community measures.

“This is a disappointing and ill-informed reaction showing little regard for communities wanting a say in determining how their neighbourhoods are to be developed. The Mayors encourage the government to focus on providing the infrastructure and services that our communities need, not shutting them out of the decision making process. Let us do our job……represent our communities, and let us work in partnership with the NSW Government in the best interest of our communities.”

Future consideration of development applications:

  • < $5million: by delegated authority to the CEO
  • $5m-$30m: to Independent Hearing Assessment Panels
  • > $30m: to regional planning panels

This article archived 22 Oct 2017

 
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