Councillors differ on local planning panels
The three Central Coast councillors whose ward covers the Peninsula have completely different reactions to the local planning panels introduced by the State Government.
The panels will take planning decisions away from the council from early next year for the developments costed above $5 million and less than $20 million.
Liberal Cr Troy Marquart said the establishment of local planning panels would be a huge boost for development on the Coast.
Labor's Cr Richard Marquart said the council was ahead of its housing targets and the State Government could not hide behind "some strawman argument" that development was being held back by council.
Independent Cr Chris Holstein said he was still seeking clarification on the scope of the panels, its level of impact and associated impacts.
Member for Terrigal Mr Adam Crouch announced on August 25 that the NSW Government would introduce a Local Planning Panel to the Coast.
Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said that, with Central Coast Council managing a large and growing population and economy, it made sense that a Local Planning Panel be extended to the region.
"Independent reviews of existing panels in NSW have demonstrated they are performing very well to deliver better planning outcomes which is why we've established a Local Planning Panel for the Central Coast," Mr Stokes said.
"The panel will free up councillors to focus on the long-term strategic planning to lead the delivery of the region's goals and priorities across its large jurisdiction."
Cr Marquart said: "We are a region growing at a frantic pace and any assistance that the Central Coast Council can receive, in regards to sensitive, complex, high-value development is a positive that should be embraced.
"The Local Planning Panel will consist of independent industry experts and the creation of this panel is backed by development professionals such as the Central Coast chapter of Urban Development Australia."
Cr Mehrtens said: "It is an utter nonsense for the Liberal Government to claim that the introduction of Local Planning Panels is anything but a power grab for their developer mates.
"All the Local Planning Panel will do is make decision-making more opaque and take away power from the community which is exactly what the government wants.
"A Local Planning Panel not accountable to the community, not elected by the community and not from the community, is a major step backwards for local decision making.
"Central Coast Council is ahead of our housing targets.
"We've got new developments in Gosford.
"The government wants a panel that will just tick-and-flick any development that gets put before it without any questioning or scrutiny as we have seen with the Joint Regional Planning Panel which has ignored community anger and even approved developments on endangered ecological land.
"Central Coast Council has to plan and deliver for the whole Coast so we should be the ones to determine all planning matters in the region to make sure we are able to support and cater to all development."
The panel is expected to be in place by early 2020 and will consist of a chair and two independent experts appointed by council from a NSW Planning Minister-endorsed pool of independent, qualified people, plus one community representative.
Media Statement, 31 Aug 2019
Chris Holstein, Central Coast Council
Media Statement, 29 Aug 2019
Richard Mehrtens, Central Coast Council
Media Statement, 29 Aug 2019
Troy Marquart, Central Coast Council
Media Release, 25 Aug 2019
Adam Crouch, Member for Terrigal