Could controversial developments such as the West Byron housing proposal be fast-tracked under new laws introduced by the state government to boost the construction industry?
Planning minister Rob Stokes says the new laws, given the rather ominous title of the ‘Planning System Acceleration Program’, will ‘cut red tape’ to keep people in jobs and the construction industry moving.
Though very light on detail when announced last week, the laws include provisions to ‘fast track assessments of state significant developments, re-zonings and development applications with more decisions to be made by the minister if required.’
It also includes a provision to ‘support Councils and planning panels to fast-track local and regionally significant DAs.’
Any development valued at over $30m is deemed to be a ‘Regionally Significant’ development under Schedule 7 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP).
This includes the two West Byron housing developments, which are valued at considerably more than $50m in total.
The combined proposals would lead to an additional 650 residential lots being built beside Ewingsdale Rd, creating an extra 14,000 traffic movements a day.
West Byron has consistently drawn strong opposition from a broad spectrum of community members.
One of the DAs (10.2017.661.1) is on public exhibition until May 7 and requires approximately 470,000 cubic metres of fill.
The Belongil Catchment Drainage Board have just submitted a strong submission against, and warn of ‘major flood events of the area and the Byron Bay township if developments of that magnitude are approved.’
Other elements of the new acceleration program by the state government include introducing a ‘one-stop shop’ for industry to progress projects that may be ‘stuck in the system’, and clearing the current backlog of cases stuck in the Land & Environment Court with additional acting commissioners.
Mr Stokes said, ‘We are fast-tracking assessments to keep people in jobs, boost the construction pipeline and keep our economy moving.
‘Our economic recovery will in many ways be longer and harder than the health one, and it’s essential we do everything we can now to keep our state moving forward and allow work to continue, wherever possible, in line with the best medical advice.’
Mr Stokes promised that more detail about the new laws would be released in the coming weeks.