Residents' association supports early say on rezonings
The Peninsula Residents Association has supported proposed changes to rezoning processes that would enable the community to have an early say about rezoning proposals.
Association secretary Mr Julian Bowker said the association supported changes which "ensure public comments are received before the council makes any assessment of the merits of a rezoning application".
The association expressed its support for the changes in a submission to the Department of Planning and Environment, which had floated a "New approach to rezonings".
"We also support the removal of the council from the sponsorship of rezoning applications, other than on its own behalf," said Mr Bowker.
"The council should not be placed in a position of being both advocate and regulator, particularly of private proposals - a recipe for conflicts of interest.
"While we do not oppose the requirement for pre-lodgement meetings, the minutes of these meetings should be exhibited with the other rezoning documents.
"These minutes should explicitly state whether any undertakings (express or implied) were given in the meeting, and if so what the undertakings were."
Mr Bowker said the association did not support the Central Coast Council's submission for retention of an initial strategic merit test, nor its rejection of a judicial review process (through the Land and Environment Court) in favour of an administrative process.
"Our submission was that the merit appeal process should be open to the community - for opponents as well as proponents.
"The current process leaves the community faced with a fait accompli where, once the council and the local planning panel have taken a position, it is almost impossible to have community submissions considered with procedural fairness.
"The new approach to rezoning should be accompanied with provisions for far greater integrity in the planning system - primarily by allowing far less discretion for the regulators both at the strategic level and at the application/proposal level.
"Law and order in planning requires a clear expectation of the consistent application of the law to all citizens, without favour - as it does elsewhere in our Australian democracy.
"And it requires workable means to achieve it.
"Variations from planning provisions in the interests of 'better outcomes' will not satisfy this requirement unless those outcomes are specified in measurable terms."
He said the association gave examples of indefinite and unexplained assessments of rezoning applications which should not be allowed.
Media release, 28 Feb 2022
Julian Bowker, Peninsula Residents Association