31 Aug Council protests changes aimed at accelerating LPP approval…
Central Coast Council will protest changes to Local Planning Panels affecting the local panel which now makes the bulk of development application (DA) decisions that councillors once made.
The Local Planning Panel, which started making decisions on the Coast in June, now has increased powers which took effect from August.
These powers include the panel not needing to hold meetings in public if DAs have not attracted public submissions.
Also, the panel can call on applicants to attend meetings to give details of their proposals.
Deputy Mayor Jane Smith said the new rules provided less public scrutiny to development applications, potentially giving local people less of a voice.
Cr Smith found to her surprise that she had enough support from councillors to get her recommendations adopted at the August 10 meeting.
She was supported by ALP councillors Jillian Hogan, RIchard Mehrtens, Doug Vincent and independents Chris Holstein and Louise Greenaway.
As a result, Council will write to NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes and Premier Gladys Berejiklian to express its concern about the changes to the operations of the planning panels which have the aim of speeding up determinations of development applications.
Council will also submit a motion to the LGNSW Annual Conference which reflects these concerns.
As of August 1, the changes require panels to make determinations within two weeks of being provided an assessment report and to hold a public meeting only where the DA has attracted 10 or more unique submissions by way of objection.
At the Chair’s discretion, applicants are now allowed to attend a briefing, along with Council staff, to explain complex matters or present confidential or commercially sensitive material.
Panel Chairs are now obliged to work with Councils to ensure key issues are addressed during assessment in order to minimise deferrals by the panels at the determination stage.
The panels are now required to provide reasons for deferring a decision and to set timeframes in which any additional information must be provided in order to finalise the determination.
The new rules allow panel Chairs the ability to require a Council to report a DA to the panel within four weeks for determination if the application has experienced unreasonable delays in excess of 180 calendar days from lodgement.
The new rules have already taken effect on the Central Coast.
The local planning panel dealt with a DA for 15 units at Koolewong at a supplementary meeting after deferring a decision three weeks earlier.
The supplementary meeting was not public.
The panels hold their meeting currently on zoom and only remain open to the public to hear public submissions.
The panel then deliberates behind closed doors and its decisions are uploaded onto the Council website within a week.
Cr Smith said the new rules, which have the aim of speeding up determinations of development applications, have potentially damaging consequences for community input.
The panel has been meeting twice a month since June after it was voted in by the council in May.
At the time, Cr Smith said the planning panel was being imposed on the area and the Council did not want it.
She said when she was Mayor, she and the Newcastle Mayor went to the Department of Planning and demonstrated that both councils were meeting their obligations on planning.
The Local Planning Panel is an independent panel of qualified people to review and assess DAs.
It meets fortnightly on a rotating roster with at least one Chair, two experts, and one community representative at each meeting.
The Chair, who has expertise in law or in government and public administration, is appointed by the Minister of Planning.
The two independent experts with expertise in at least one area of planning, architecture, heritage, environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism or government and public administration, are appointed by Council from a pre-selected list of experts provided by the Department of Planning.
The representative of the local community is selected via expressions of interest from interested representatives of the local community who have a demonstrated understanding and experience in similar or related fields to the experts.