Mayors Join Forces to Protect Local Decision Making

Mayors of five Councils in Sydney’s West have expressed deep concern at the NSW government’s disappointing reaction to planning future development. This comes shortly after council amalgamation changes and a lack of clarity on the role of local communities in determining future development outcomes in Western Sydney.

The Mayors – Mark Greenhill OAM (Blue Mountains), George Brticevic (Campbelltown), Mary Lyons-Buckett (Hawkesbury), John Thain (Penrith) and Wendy Waller (Liverpool) – are calling for an urgent meeting with the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to discuss what they say is a retrograde piece of legislation.

The introduction of mandatory Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels will decide all development applications worth between $5-30 million as well as other contentious proposals of lesser value. Applications under $5M will be dealt with under delegated authority to the Council CEOs.

The Mayors are also writing to Anthony Roberts Minister for Planning, Gabrielle Upton Minister for Local Government, NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley and they are making representations to the NSW Governor His Excellency General the Hon David Hurley urging a review of the process that led to the decision.

“Our communities are accommodating rapid population growth. We believe it is essential for them to retain a say in shaping how their suburbs develop. That only happens when their elected council representatives have a role in determining development applications in their own LGAs. If Councillors get it wrong, they can be voted out at an election,” the Mayors said.

The Mayors will ask the Premier and the Governor to defer the legislation until they can meet together to design a process that empowers and protects local communities – instead of silencing them.

“There was no debate around this legislation, no community consultation. Surely this is a removal of the democratic process at a very basic level – denying community-elected representatives a say on deciding local development applications,” the Mayors said.

“With regards to Minister Roberts’ comments on corruption, corruption should not be tolerated at any level of government. But to tar all councils with the same brush is not fair; and disingenuous at best.

“Let’s not define anti-corruption measures as anti-community measures,” they added.

“This is a disappointing and ill-informed reaction showing little regard for communities wanting a say in determining how their neighbourhoods are to be developed.”

The Mayors encourage the NSW Government to focus on providing the infrastructure and services that our communities need, not shutting them out of the decision making process.

“Let us do our job……representing our communities, and let us work in partnership with the NSW Government in the best interest of our communities.”

Mandatory Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels will mean that the future consideration of development applications

  • < $5million will be by the delegated authority to the CEO
  • $5m-$30m will go to Independent Hearing Assessment Panels
  • > $30m will go to Regional Planning Panels.

For further information:

  • Blue Mountains City Council, Adrienne Murphy 0414 195 533
  • Campbelltown City Council, Peta Gismondo 0418 436 418
  • Hawkesbury City Council, Suzanne Stuart 0478 331 130
  • Penrith City Council, Barbara Magee 0419 603 477
  • Liverpool City Council, Andrew Stevenson 0428 438 970

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