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Byron Shire
January 28, 2021

Editorial: NIMBY whinger!

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Hans Lovejoy, editor

If you have never been affected by an inappropriate development, there’s not much chance you would have interest in what others in the Shire have gone through.

Such are the self-centred times we live in.

But the disillusionment and anger of residents who have been beaten about by Council’s powerful planning stick is very real, and happens all too frequently. Just because it hasn’t happened to you, it doesn’t mean it won’t – see page 3 and 7.

Councillors were elected in 2016 after a fairly disastrous previous Council majority ignored the community, aligned themselves with Council executive staff and pursued a reckless high growth agenda. While this councillor majority has done much the same, affordable housing was an election issue.

As such, councillors set about trying to provide conditions for that to occur. Yet since 2016, there has been little regard to the conflicts this type of policy generates, nor the impacts of secondary dwellings in urban areas, for example. Thankfully a review of those impacts on Sunrise is on the way.

But much more is needed. How about a governance review! It could actually engender some community trust.

There is also a definite attitude by the current councillor majority to dismiss neighbouring objectors as whinging NIMBYs.

Additionally, the councillor majority led by the ‘Greens’ mayor are risk-averse and fearful of defending the refusal of inappropriate DAs. From the outside, it appears no attempt is being made to improve Council’s legal position and strengthen planning policies to defend against inappropriate DAs. It’s just not a priority.

To be fair, developers such as Kollective regularly bypass Council’s planning process and use instead the NSW government’s Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP). It’s a really, really poor policy that pretends to provide for affordable housing, but doesn’t, because there are sunset clauses and only a small percentage of the floorspace is required to be ‘affordable’.

Where to from here? Ben Franklin is a locally-based Nationals Party MLC. He is still very keen on being elected as MP for this electorate, it appears.

Despite his loss to Greens incumbent Tamara Smith last year, his staff still pump out a constant stream of media releases, showing him heroically providing funding (our taxes) for this and that.

Perhaps he and the planning minister, Rob Stokes, could be asked politely to improve the dreadful laws that are eroding community trust in government? And ask Council for the same?

Abolishing the Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) would be a great start.

Fun fact: upper house MPs have a lot more time on their hands than lower house MPs. As an upper house MP, surely Franklin would enthusiastically explain why his government probably won’t change the laws, because the nation is addicted to, and relies on, speculative property investing? His contact is (02) 9230 3793 and email [email protected]

News tips are welcome: [email protected]

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