The state government has extended its deadline for local councils to comment on its controversial planning system overhaul.
The government’s recently announced planning system reform proposal has sparked fears among council planners and councillors that major planning decisions will be taken away from them.
Some Tweed Shire councillors quietly expressed concerns about the Planning Green Paper recently, with one saying ‘we’re now to be relegated to just looking after cats and garbage’.
This morning, planning minister Brad Hazzard issued a release extending the deadline for submissions from councils from 14 September to 5 October.
Mr Hazzard said the Green Paper followed nearly a year of public meetings across the state by the independent reviewers Tim Moore and Ron Dyer.
He said the upcoming local government elections ‘should not preclude proper consideration’ of the Green Paper and input from councils.
‘There are 152 councils across NSW with councillors that generally have at least four years’ experience and it would be valuable for the NSW community to have the insights of those experienced councillors before some move on,’ he said.
The minister said ‘it would be helpful if councils get their submissions in as quickly as possible’.
Under the plan, development applications will be ‘considered by a local expert panel, to depoliticise decision making’ and, according to the government make it easier for homeowners to get approval for basic renovations.
In pushing the reforms, Mr Hazzard has said that ‘sometimes the politics gets in the way of the right decision – and it’s time that stopped’.
But Opposition planning spokeswoman Linda Burney says the plan assumes ‘elected councillors have no capacity to make informed decisions outside of the influence of politics’.
An online consultation forum has been set up at: www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/newplanningsystem.
Further information can be found at: www.planning.nsw.gov.au.