Trees on Tennyson Road, Mortlake

Trees on Tennyson Road, Mortlake

This morning I went to Mortlake with the aim of protecting eight mature trees on Tennyson Road Mortlake (next to Breakfast Point). The Canada Bay Council, in responding to local requests for a footpath, had slated eight beautiful old paper-bark trees for removal as part of the work, because of the narrow space for the new footpath. I talked to a number of local residents who were there about the … Continue reading

Review of Canada Bay Local Environmental Plan (LEP)

Council has now agreed to update its Local Environmental Plan (LEP). This major document controls all development across Canada Bay. Council will update it because the previous version from 2013 is now out of date. The key agenda concern for all councillors was to minimise the impact of the NSW state government’s dodgy low rise medium density policy, which allows much looser control over low-rise medium density buildings like dual … Continue reading

The NSW government controls planning panels, but renames them “local”

One little thing I discovered this week: the NSW government controlled “IHAPs” (Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels) across Sydney all have now been renamed “Local Planning Panels” – by a direction from the Minister for Local Government. Here we see a great example of Orwellian “doublespeak”, with the panels staffed predominantly by people recruited and appointed by the NSW government, with a chair appointed by the government, and now a … Continue reading

Report for June 2018 (short version)

Attended Council meeting 12 June, where councillors agreed to update the Local Environmental Plan (the key local document for planning matters) to give Council more control in dealing with new state government rules, of which the latest is their low rise medium density policy. Chaired Council’s environment advisory committee meeting on 28 June. The Committee completed setup of its internal teams, which will take on projects in the areas of: … Continue reading

Bus services in the Inner West have been privatised

Bus services in the Inner West have been privatised

As of the 1st July, bus services in the Inner West have been privatised. On that day I went to the rally at the Leichhardt bus depot against the privatisation, and in support of support of drivers who are now losing pay and conditions. The privatisation breaks an express promise by the NSW Coalition that buses would not be privatised. We have already seen a large string of bus stops … Continue reading

More on dealing with development approvals

Most people reading this page will be dealing with some kind of development application that they support or don’t support. Hopefully this page will help you. First of all, don’t send your objection to a councillor thinking they will be able to listen and get the application rejected at a council meeting. That’s because councillors no longer have a decision-making role on development approvals (which in my view undermines local democracy). … Continue reading

Parramatta River Catchment Group workshop on World Water Day

Parramatta River Catchment Group workshop on World Water Day

Today is World Water Day. I went to a workshop held in Rhodes with the Parramatta River Catchment Group. The workshop gathered broad input on the work and plans focusing on different aspects of the health of the Parramatta River. Their motto: make the Parramatta River Swimmable again! But more broadly, dealing with a wide range of factors affecting the health of the river, including the animals and plants that … Continue reading

Invasion Day rally and march – Australia Day is on the wrong day

On 26 January, I went to Canada Bay Council’s citizenship ceremony in Rhodes. Then I went to the Invasion Day rally and march. I think Australia Day could represent a great way to celebrate all the good things Australians have to offer and enjoy. Of course, the current date doesn’t work for Indigenous Australians, so we need to change it. Many people say that, by itself, changing the date will not … Continue reading

Rezoning proposal in Homebush wants to double heights of buildings

Rezoning proposal in Homebush wants to double heights of buildings

In mid February I attended a public meeting in Homebush run by the Eastern City Planning Panel, held to get community input into a rezoning proposal for 11-17 Columbia Lane Homebush. This property is within Strathfield Council area, but very close to Canada Bay area. The proposal, with apparent NSW Government support, is to increase the allowed height from 32m to 80m, say 22 storeys or maybe more! This will … Continue reading

NSW state government stops councillors determining development approvals

As of 1 March, the NSW state government has stopped councillors in Canada Bay from determining the outcomes of any development approvals (DAs). The excuse is to stop corruption. The “solution” is to remove the democratic influence of councils on development across Canada Bay, with the NSW government grabbing control and planning laws made even more developer-friendly than before.

Until now, DAs which were controversial were passed from council staff to the councillors. The decisions were made in an open council meeting, where people for or against a development had the chance to speak. But now, because of new NSW state government law, our councillors will no longer have any role in these decisions. Instead, they will be made by planning panels called IHAPs (Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels) – all across Sydney and Wollongong.

In most cases, the outcome would be the same. But in some cases it would be different, because elected councillors are concerned not just about following planning rules, but representing the community’s best interest. Councillors are accountable to the community and can be later voted out of office if enough people disagree with them.

This legislation is the latest example of the NSW state government taking power away from democratically elected local councils, and imposing their own rules. The fees for the extra bureaucrats are paid for by the council. If a party appeals to the Land and Environment Court against an IHAP decision, the council (who had no say in the decision) has to foot the legal bill. I still don’t know if the IHAP will make decisions in public, and when their meetings will take place.

Who asked for this backward step? The real estate industry. The IHAPs are called independent, but they are effectively controlled by the state government.

LOCAL DEVELOPMENT ASSESSMENT

Local people will continue to send me emails about their concerns about developments going on around them. Yes, I can send them to the IHAP. But I won’t be able to do much to help them. If you are concerned about this, learn about what the state government has done and continues to do about planning laws. Yes I know it’s complicated. That’s why they have gotten away with this – up until now.

See my later post with more on dealing with development approvals.

[The Inner West Courier published a modified form of this post on 6 March 2018 on their letters page.]

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