Did not vote for this

Hans Lovejoy, editor

What awaits the unsuspecting public this Thursday at Council’s December 12 meeting?

There’s 2,690 pages of agenda to digest – really.

And there appears an urgency about it, which was similar to when the last Council majority faced their election in 2016.

It’s unclear why councillors elected largely on a platform of Green or left values are now pursuing a Nationals Party agenda of development at all costs. It’s been happening for a while.

What we learned this week is that NSW councils are largely free to develop whatever they like, and ignore growth targets (see page 4). Wahoo! That seems to suit this council.

It also suits wealthy developers of course, and impacts on those who value residential amenity and the (diminishing) high value biodiversity of this area.

Over-development is problematic for this region given the limits of the Shire’s four sewage treatment plants. They are a key to how much development can occur. Longtime readers would be aware of a sewerage moratorium that lasted nine years, until 2006. Such considerations appear missing from much of what is being thrown at the public at present. Instead we are presented with big, bold visions of economic growth underpinned with glossy pictures.

If approved this Thursday, Council’s Business and Industrial Lands Strategy (BILS) would rezone vast tracks of rural land to commercial use. This means speculating developers could submit large major ‘significant’ projects that then get considered under the dubious unelected Northern Planning Panel.

It’s worth pointing out the NSW government are wanting to fast track as much development as possible too.

Enabling documents like these make it hard for future Councils to defend such unwanted DAs in court. 

The Business and Industrial Lands Strategy is a mess in terms of process and alignment with other plans.

The Echo understands a Local Growth Management Plan is being requested by the state government, and that it should precede other plans and strategies like this.

It’s actually all an embarrassment. Will all this land become residential too, like it has in the Arts & Industry Estate?

These ‘plans’ all cost rate payers money. Poor planning documents may suit bureaucrats, as revisions give them endless activity. Poor planning documents suit nobody else.

This plan is similar to the rural strategy submitted in the dying days of the 2012-2016 Council majority. That Council tried to foist massive inappropriate planning documents for approval onto the state government. Thankfully that rural strategy was rejected, along with other inadequate plans, such as the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP).

Does rezoning huge swathes of the Shire reflect the wishes of the community? And will councillors continue to defend planning staff over these types of plans? We’ll see on Thursday.

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A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

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