Planning decisions now allowed without public scrutiny
Development applications that have not attracted a minimum number of public submissions will not be discussed publicly under new rules for Local Planning Panels that took effect from August 1.
The local planning panel will deal with "sensitive, complex and high-value" development applications while Central Coast Council staff will determine the more straight forward applications.
The new rules now require planning panels to hold a public meeting only where the application has attracted 10 or more unique submissions by way of objection.
Panels have to make determinations within two weeks of being provided an assessment report, which is written by the council staff.
The panel chair can allow applicants to attend a briefing, along with council staff, to explain complex matters or present confidential or commercially sensitive material
The chair is obliged to work with council to ensure key issues are addressed during assessment in order to minimise deferrals by the panels at the determination stage.
The new rules now require the panels to provide reasons for deferring a decision and set timeframes in which any additional information must be provided in order to finalise the determination.
The chair now has the ability to require the council to report an application to the panel within four weeks for determination if the application has experienced unreasonable delays in excess of 180 calendar days from lodgment.
There is also the Joint Regional Planning Panel for regional significant proposals and the new rules also apply to that panel."
Cr Jane Smith has said the new rules have the potential to damage community input.
She wants the council to write to the NSW Minister for Planning Mr Rob Stokes and Premier Ms Gladys Berejiklian to express its concern about the changes.
The matter is on the agenda for discussion at the August 10 meeting of council.
Central Coast Council agenda 5.4, 10 Aug 2020