The extension of mandatory local planning panels to the Central Coast showed the further erosion of community and local government planning powers despite growing public concern, Local Government NSW (LGNSW) said today.
LGNSW President Cr Linda Scott said the announcement of a new mandatory planning panel for the Central Coast local government area appeared to herald a new push to remove the rights of communities and local governments to have a say in the future of their neighbourhood or their region.
“It is incredibly disappointing to see the State Government pushing ahead with the extension of mandatory planning panels to areas outside Sydney and Wollongong,” Cr Scott said.
“Local governments are elected to represent the views of their communities.
“A key role of local governments is to undertake place-based planning for the future of their area, and yet this role is being further eroded by the NSW Government.
“The Government says mandatory planning panels ensure major developments are planned and delivered in a strategic way – yet in Pyrmont a new review has been announced when the original strategic approach doesn’t deliver the desired result for certain sectors.
“The planning process impacts every part of our lives, and now, more than ever, we need to ensure that communities and neighbourhoods have a say in their own future, and confidence and trust in the NSW Planning system.”
Cr Scott said claims that the panel was designed to “free up councillors to focus on long-term strategic planning” just didn’t wash, given the widespread use of State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) and Greater Sydney Commission Assurance Reviews that potentially have the effect of overriding council planning controls and powers.
“At a local government forum held on the Central Coast just over five months ago, mayors and councillors from right across the political spectrum expressed their concerns about the reduction in local government planning powers,” she said.
Cr Scott said the Central Coast mandatory Planning Panel posed a serious risk of undermining the community’s faith and confidence in the planning system.
“On behalf of NSW Councils, I have personally met with the Premier to express our strong concerns about the NSW State Government potentially undermining local government planning powers,” she said.
“The Government is introducing a new planning process on the Central Coast while simultaneously undermining the planning process on Sydney’s Western Harbour foreshore precinct – these moves risk undermining public trust and confidence in the NSW planning system.”
The Central Coast mandatory Planning Panel, like those already compulsory in metropolitan Sydney and Wollongong, will decide on all Development Applications (DAs) worth more than $5 million.