Councillors locked out of planning

KEITH Rhoades is not happy.

The Coffs Harbour City mayor is angry that a State Government decision to return some planning powers to local government still misses a fundamental point of a democratic society.

“The changes announced by (Local Government) Minister Tony Kelly will mean absolutely nothing to this council because they still prevent the elected representatives, the councillors, from playing any role in determining major development applications,” Councillor Rhoades said.

“Councillors have great local knowledge and an understanding of their communities and yet they will continue to be shut out from the decision making process.”

Minister Kelly has announced as a result of a review of the Joint Regional Planning Panels (JRPP) some powers will be returned to council staff but not councillors.

The panels were set up last July to determine development applications worth more than $10 million and those in coastal zones which would exceed 13 metres in height.

Under the changes, the panels will remain but staff will be able to determine DA’s that do not have any objections, are in agreed precincts or areas and involve minor modifications to panel decisions.

“Since last July the JRPP has determined three major local DAs which could have all been handled locally,” Cr Rhoades said.



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