Paul Cholakos, Montecollum
David Lovejoy’s column ‘Local Leadership Vacuum’ in last week’s paper was spot on. I read it just before heading into Council to speak against a development on the corner of Jonson St and Browning Street in Byron – the notorious ‘mega development’ which was rejected by the Joint Regional Planning Panel back in 2018.
Every development application or variation on this site has failed to meet requirements of the Local Environment Plan (LEP) and other planning controls, yet Council staff have recommended every single one.
I have only heard Councillors Cameron and Coorey speak up to defend the LEP. The reasons for other Councillors’ silence is unclear, and ultimately don’t matter – their (in)actions are what matters. As your column said, change is needed.
The LEP was finalised following extensive community consultation. The community should reasonably expect Council at all levels would enforce it. Instead, the LEP is constantly eroded through individual development applications, each of which gets much less public scrutiny than the LEP. It is a corruption of the approval process.
The LEP had been represented as allowing two-storey development in that part of town. Yesterday, Council approved a fourth level pool, giving approval for further breaches of LEP height controls. Last year, the developer argued he need not meet requirements for open space on the site because the site is close to the beach, though it had not gotten closer since the requirements were set in the LEP. That allowed him to breach floor space ratios and wedge more units on the site. Now a pool has been approved because, the developer argued, the site needs open space.
Watch for more developers using the same playbook in the future.
Your column mentioned the plethora of Council vehicles labelled ‘Enforcement’. Sadly, the vehicle labelled ‘Planning and Development Control Enforcement’ hasn’t made it out of the garage.