Mayors fight planning changes

COFFS Coast mayors were in Sydney this week to join more than 180 local government leaders in unanimous opposition to a shake-up of state development planning.

The most heavily debated issue was the changes to Section 94 developer contributions proposed by Planning Minister Frank Sartor.

Coffs Harbour Mayor Keith Rhoades said such changes would 'starve regional NSW'.

Section 94 developer contributions provide essential funding for public services required as a consequence of development.

"Local libraries, civic centres and sporting facilities are frequently assisted by section 94 and if the proposal is adopted, these services will not eventuate because that funding will go elsewhere," Cr Rhoades said.

"Coffs Harbour developments could end up funding facilities in Sydney."

NSW Shires Assocation president Bruce Miller said the cuts will greatly reduce councils' capacity to provide crucial social infrastructure.

Bellingen Shire Council general manager Mike Colreavy said Mayor Mark Troy also attended yesterday's briefing to object to the changes to x Section 94.

The NSW Local Government Assocation meeting was a response to a Department of Planning paper that proposes more than 80 changes to the planning system.

Cr Rhoades said the Country Mayor's Association has added its support to the NSWLGA's motion to seek an extension of the public consultation on the planning paper, which ends on February 8.

Yesterday's meeting also put forward a number of alternative planning reforms that would not compromise the character of neighbourhoods or community input.

"The proposed changes will lead to the same rules being applied to residential developments regardless of whether you are in Bourke or Balmain," NSWLGA president Genia McCaffery said.

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