The Greens have condemned NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts for stripping planning powers away from Lismore City Council at a time when the local community is crying out for more involvement in decisions about their future.
Late yesterday afternoon, Lismore City Council released correspondence from the Planning Minister that he had taken the extraodinary step to appoint members to the Independent Planning Panel despite Lismore City Council voting at its meeting on 14 February to not support the establishment of, or appoint members to, the panel.
Quotes Attributable to Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP, planning spokesperson and lead candidate for the Upper House.
“The Lismore community has been crying out for greater transparency and control over the recovery process. Instead, the NSW Government has disempowered the community even further,” said Cate Faehrmann.
“The people of Lismore are anxious about how decisions are being made about the future of their city. The last thing they need is an undemocratic planning panel making decisions for them about what reconstruction is going to look like.
“The Planning Minister has a track record of disempowering communities to serve developer interests. The NSW Government needs to establish a process that gives Lismore residents agency over the reconstruction process, not one that will let developers roll over the community to squeeze as much profit out of reconstruction as they can.
“The fact that Lismore council needs to pay for the staff and facilities of the government’s sham planning panel is completely unacceptable. It’s another flagrant example of state government cost shifting which will hurt Lismore council ratepayers even more.
“I’m calling on the government to reverse this decision and at the very least pay for the costs of this planning panel,” said Cate Faehrmann.
Quotes Attributable to Adam Guise, Greens Lismore City Councillor and candidate for Lismore
“It’s outrageous that the Liberal Planning Minister is riding roughshod over our community and sacking Lismore councillors from local planning decisions. Councillors were never consulted on this extraordinary announcement made by the Minister last year only days before Christmas,” said Adam Guise.
“Lismore Council decided at its February meeting not to constitute a planning panel. Councillors resolved to keep our planning powers so that planning decisions are made locally with community involvement.
“Planning decisions will now be taken away from elected councillors and given to government appointed bureaucrats who don’t live in our communities. The government claims this is to accelerate flood recovery but here we are 12 months on and thousands of people are still homeless and displaced.
“What this means is that councillors will be sidelined from important decisions about where and how our community rebuilds.
“Subdivisions will be allowed to bypass the normal development process and be carried out on land where it is currently not allowed by the local environmental plan.
“Our community wants a say in our future housing choices and imposing inappropriate developments on the community in the name of flood recovery will cause conflict.
“What we need is a wholesale reform of the planning system which puts people and planet first, rather than the profits of developers. Our community wants a say over our future and to be included in the decisions that effect them,” said Adam Guise.