City of Newcastle questions state government planning changes

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City of Newcastle will debate recent changes made by the NSW Government that may see council developments overridden.

During an Ordinary Council Meeting tomorrow (Tuesday 28 April), councillors will vote on a motion to write to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for Planning Rob Stokes and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet.

The council wants to express its opposition to changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, which grants Mr Stokes unprecedented powers to override planning decisions made by local councils, planning panels and the Independent Planning Commission.

This means that decisions made by local councils can be overruled for any reason and these decisions cannot be reversed when the pandemic is over.

Mr Stokes and Mr Perrottet released details about a Planning System Acceleration Program earlier this month.

The program aims to create more jobs, fast-track assessments of state significant developments and support councils and planning panels to fast-track local development applications.

“We are fast-tracking assessments to keep people in jobs, boost the construction pipeline and keep our economy moving,” Mr Stokes said.
 
“Our economic recovery will in many ways be longer and harder than the health one and it’s essential we do everything we can now to keep our state moving forward and allow work to continue wherever possible, in line with the best medical advice.”

Mr Stokes also said the planning system would undergo further reform to ensure it enables economic growth once the COVID-19 crisis is over. 

“This will pass and, when it does, the planning system will be ready to continue driving economic productivity across the state,” Mr Stokes said.

City of Newcastle is calling on the government to provide more details about this program and, if the motion is passed, will include a request for full disclosure.

The council believes that planning decisions should be community-led and that councils are in the best position to make decisions about developments in their local area.

It will also request that the NSW Government offers extra funding to local councils to monitor building sites during extended building and demolition hours throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.