Planning Panels are a rort

Dear Sir,
Hunters Hill Council is absolutely right to be concerned by the Liberal State Government’s law that deprives local government of any significant decision-making power for development applications (TWT page 7 January 31, 2018). 

These new so-called Planning Panels make the final decisions in what are local matters.

That is, after the local Council has borne the costs and bother of reviewing all the submitted material. Often hundreds of pages of gobbledegook in my experience.

At a recent meeting of the Sydney North Panel, concerned though inexpert local residents had three minutes to speak while the developer’s team of specialists spoke last and had 15 minutes to refute the residents legitimate arguments.

The Panel’s website says that meetings will be held at a place convenient to those affected. Well, mid-morning on a working day in a North Sydney building with poor  signage is not my idea of convenient to the residents of Gladesville.

A little research revealed that this Panel of four comprised of:

(1) a smooth-talking former leader of the State Liberal Party while in opposition.

(2) a member of both the Property Council and the Australian Institute of Company directors with diplomas in planning from the UK.

(3) a retired architect-planner with many years service in government.

(4) A representative of Ryde ratepayers in the form of a Councillor from the Central ward.

The matter being decided was in the  East ward.

Clearly our Councillor could easily be out-voted.

Not surprisingly the application before the Panel was waved through with a couple of trifling amendments.

I am no rabid leftie yet I value democracy very highly.

The Planning Panel process is a total abandonment of democracy at the local level by our Liberal State Government and should be of even greater concern than council amalgamations.