Coffs Harbour councillor and LGNSW President Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM.
Coffs Harbour councillor and LGNSW President Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM.

Mayor supports 3A stop

COFFS Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades has applauded NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s move to scrap Part 3A planning approvals.

“Hats off to Barry O’Farrell for such a swift decision,” Cr Rhoades said yesterday.

Speaking from Warrell Creek where the veteran firefighter was attending the scene of yesterday’s fatal highway accident, the mayor said the decisive move would affect at least two proposed developments.

The proposal to develop the South Moonee Forest and Emerald Beach North are now expected to come before the Coffs Harbour City Council for decision.

The Part 3A concept approval for the 200-lot Sandy Shores subdivision, which was granted in December, will stand as the Premier has said the change to planning will not be retrospective.

The Sandy Shores concept approval is subject to a judicial review challenge in the Land and Environment Court by the Coffs Harbour City Council.

Cr Rhoades, who is also the president of the Local Government Association, said local government had lobbied hard for the change.

Mr O’Farrell has said no new applications would be accepted for residential, commercial, retail or coastal developments under Part 3A of the 1979 Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

The legislation made the Minister for Planning the consent authority for major projects deemed to be of state or regional significance.

As a wide range of projects could be declared major developments or of state or regional environmental planning significance, this gave the Minister or his or her delegates broad powers.

Part 3A, introduced in 2005, put the Government at odds with local councils and communities.

It also sometimes produced absurd results.

Cr Rhoades gave the example of a swing set at the Christian Community School with a pole more than eight metres tall, which turned it into a part 3A project.

The mayor said he did not think the decision to put a halt on Part 3A applications and begin revamping the state planning laws would hold up any local projects but he said it was unknown at this stage what would happen to the Joint Regional Planning Panels.

Mr O’Farrell acknowledged that government would still need to assess projects of state significance, saying councils were unable to do so.

However, he wanted to put an end to a process which the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) last year said gave the state too much discretion and created a “corruption risk”.

“There’ll be clear guidelines around what are state significant developments,” Mr O’Farrell said of the yet-to-be-developed replacement for Part 3A.

NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson queried the Premier’s claim that the move would return decision making to local communities.

“Mr O’Farrell said all planning decisions would go back but only one in four are actually going back to local councils,” Mr Robertson said.

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