Hans Lovejoy, editor
What do bureaucrats do if they want to simplify complex planning laws? Create another one!
In an effort to consolidate Council and state government policies and laws that constrain the never-ending appetite for building new stuff, a new ‘overarching’ document has been foisted upon all NSW Councils by the NSW Liberal-Nationals government.
It’s called a Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS), and when adopted, will work alongside other such masterworks as the NSW Government’s North Coast Regional Plan and Council’s Community Strategic Plan (CSP), Local Environment Plans (LEP) and Development Control Plans (DCP).
While the Local Strategic Planning Statement has just wrapped up its public exhibition phase, it’s described as a ‘live’ document, meaning that it will be tinkered with and refined at the whim of councillors and planning staff. So there will be more opportunity to look closer at it in coming years.
Why does this matter? Because if you and your neighbours are faced with large inappropriate development, these are the documents to know, both in the pre-DA stage and in any Land & Environment Court case.
Along with this suite of growth management strategies (also called ‘instruments’) are ‘place based strategic plans’.
Council planning staff say within their LSPS materials that Place-based plans for Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Bangalow have been completed.
‘More recently in February 2020, our Business and Industrial Lands Strategy was completed. As other strategies and plans become finalised, such as the Byron Shire Residential Strategy, new priority actions will be included in the LSPS’.
Fun fact: A DCP has little to no weight with court rulings.
As the public discovered in last year’s Land & Environment decision (bit.ly/3fD7Uvb) that favoured a contentious tourist hotel at 4 Marvell Street, Byron Bay, place based strategic plans are not always regarded as the final word – it’s planning staff’s opinion and ‘flexibility’ that can also determine planning decisions.
While acknowledging the town’s masterplan, Commissioner Jenny Smithson also said that ‘cl 4.6 [Exceptions to development standards] exists in the LEP to allow flexibility to vary standards, subject to compliance with the requirements of that clause’.
She wrote, ‘It would have no work to do if the Council did not allow any variations on the basis of the potential adverse precedent of varying development standards, per se’.
Putting aside the attractive idea of Council planning staff having no work to do, the complex and chaotic world of planning appears to serve the few, not many.
But then, the few make money from the many by selling/renting them a place to live that hopefully isn’t a fire trap or structurally compromised.
So isn’t that a good thing?
The Local Strategic Planning Statement is available at www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/LSPS.