The $1m fear

ONE million dollars.

That is how much Coffs Harbour will miss out on if proposed changes to State planning laws as go ahead, according to Coffs Harbour mayor Cr Keith Rhoades.

And he fears fewer services and less say in local developments will also result if residents don't join the council in opposing the changes through the Keep It Local campaign.

"Essentially these draft laws will leave our community out of pocket when it comes to providing facilities and services and - more importantly - reduces the rights of residents to comment on local developments," Cr Rhoades said.

"In one stroke, these laws would deprive the community of up to $1m every year in funding for vital services. We're talking about library books, surf rescue equipment, sports fields and beach protection works. Lands with conservation value will also be affected."

"Plus the same laws would increase the power of private companies to approve development applications. This would mean that local residents may not be notified of residential developments and may have no avenue through which to object.

"These pro-developer laws will significantly affect the community's ability to voice concern over new development and will deliver more power to the NSW Government and private companies."

Currently, Coffs Harbour City Council collects around $2.5m every year in Developer Contributions (Section 94 contributions).

These contributions are levied on new developments to help provide funding for the essential services that the people who will then move to live in the area will need.

These funds support a range of works including local and regional roads, cycleways, flood mitigation works, parks, sporting facilities, community centres, surf rescue equipment and library resources.

But, under the proposed changes, the scope of works and services for which the contributions can be used will be slashed.

In addition, under the new laws, private companies will be given the power to approve residential developments with no notification to neighbours.

"We are really looking at the possibility of people finding out that a development is happening on their doorstep when the bulldozers arrive," Cr Rhoades said.

Coffs Harbour City Council has already sent three submissions to the NSW Department of Planning on the new laws and is urging local residents to voice their concern through the Keep It Local Campaign website, www.keepitlocal.org.au.


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