With the State Election just around the corner, Mayors are joining forces to support Local Government NSW’s (LGNSW) campaign to restore planning powers to communities in NSW.
A LGNSW forum held on the Central Coast on Sunday March 17 confirmed the local government sector’s opposition to the mandatory introduction of Planning Panels and the widespread use of State Environment Planning Policies (SEPPs), which override council planning controls and powers.
Central Coast Mayor Cr Jane Smith said she agreed to host the forum because of concern about the continual erosion of council’s planning powers on the Central Coast.
“Here on the coast we have seen the introduction of a new SEPP for the Gosford CBD and for Darkinjung-owned land, which remove council completely as the planning authority for major development.
“Concerns about SEPPs were shared by those who attended the forum and it is a key issue that all parties must look to review.”
The Minister for Planning is now also considering imposing planning panels on the Central Coast and Newcastle.
“The move to introduce mandatory planning panels, to replace councils as decision-maker, is a further erosion of our powers which council will continue to fight,” Cr Smith said.
“We need to take back our planning powers and ensure our community has a say in the future of its neighbourhood and our region.”
LGNSW President Cr Linda Scott said the forum was focused on the issues that go to the heart of their election priorities – restoring planning powers to communities.
“There are differing views on panels but what unites the local government sector is that Planning Panels should be voluntary not mandatory – it should be up to individual Councils as to whether to implement them,” Ms Scott said.
“Planning Panels remove decision-making and the shaping of development from communities and we call on all parties to commit to properly review mandatory panels before they are rolled out even further.”
The forum heard from a panel including Hornsby Shire Council Mayor Cr Philip Ruddock, Northern Beaches Council Mayor Cr Michael Regan, and City of Newcastle Deputy Lord Mayor Cr Declan Clausen and was attended by Central Coast councillors and LGNSW representatives.