'Planning Panels' are Undemocratic

At the beginning of this term, Councillors were able to vote on Development Applications. This is as it should be, as we are democratically accountable to you. Councillors live in this community and understand your concerns. We balances the requests of applicants with the broader public good – the very purpose for which elected chambers exist.

That changed when the State Government took away most elected Sydney Council’s ability to vote on DA’s in 2017, and replaced them with ‘Planning Panels’. I felt it was a step backwards. I strongly lamented the erosion of democracy and accountability. As a result, many DA’s are now approved that the community have little awareness of. Appeals are not permitted. A majority of appointees to Panels are made by the Minister. Only one community representative is allowed.

Although these people may possess eminent subject expertise in planning, they are not accountable to the voting public. In most cases they don’t even live in the area. My Liberal colleagues on Council decided to join me in expressing concern, even though Liberals in many other Councils were appalled. Worse, Clr Tree moved in 2017 to ask the State Government to expand the panels to cover us, Blue Mountains and Penrith – meaning it would be even less local or attuned to our needs.

Over the coming term I hope to push back on the state government and work with the community to identify a better way to review DAs and ensure accountability to you.

My posts about 'Planning Panels'

Over the past 5 years I’ve documented heavily my thoughts and the evolving conversation about ‘Planning Panels’

Proposed McGraths Hill motel development knockback prompts litigation

Most residents are unaware of a proposal to build a large Motel on the site of the Millers Nursery Site at McGraths Hill. That's…

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Hawkesbury Radio interview, February 2021

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Garry Cotter at Hawkesbury Radio 899 to talk about a wide range of issues.…

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Speaking to Ray Hadley about Planning Panels

This morning I was invited to speak to Ray Hadley on Sydney Radio station 2GB about Planning Panels, and also about a concrete…

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Ecotourism, Hindu Temples, and WTF is a Housekeeping LEP?

Council's meeting approved a motion I brought which sought an extension of the public consultation period about the Pitt Town…

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Is a Hindu temple appropriate for Pitt Town?

A number of residents have approached me about a development application which was lodged in late November for the construction…

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Commissioner rejects appeal on the Avina Caravan Park expansion

Many residents have expressed concern over the proposed expansion of the Avina Van Village bordering Oakville and Vineyard. This…

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