THE new planning panel to determine development applications in Hunters Hill met for the first time at the Town Hall on Thursday.
The panel has sweeping state government powers to approve or reject all applications except for large developments of significant state significance which will be decided by a State Government appointed group.
Chaired by David Lloyd QC, it will replace the role of Hunters Hill councillors to vote on development applications although councillors do have a right to express an opinion or a concern on panel decisions and performance.
Hunters Hill Council had opposed the new panel but accept it because it was introduced as a State Government law passed in December.
Mayor Mark Bennett addressed the inaugural panel meeting and put the local community expectation to it.
“Like a small country town we are a small community and we are passionate about our community,” Mayor Bennett said.
“Heritage and the environment are very important to us and to our community who have found a place in Hunters Hill and those who have lived here for many years.”
Save Hunters Hill Municipality Spokesman Phil Jenkyn also addressed the panel, which his group had campaigned against.
“Many in this community are strongly against the planning panel legislation but the law is the law and while this law exists in the current form, panels must work for the benefit of communities,” he said.
“The considerable significance of this municipality, the heritage and the character, both built and natural is a direct result of the concerns and actions of this community and our elected councillors over a very long period.”
The new panel has significant local government and heritage advisory experience and includes former Mayor Richard Quinn.
The panel members are David Lloyd QC, Peter Webber, Lesley Finn, Chris Young, Ron Edgar, Richard Quinn, Phillip Hart, David Logan, Virginia Wise, Sheridan Bourke and Dr Meredith Sheil.
The panel will meet one Thursday each month at the Town Hall at 4pm and confirmed meeting dates will be posted in The Weekly Times.