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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Newcastle councillors back property developer ban on local councils

Newcastle’s Labor councillors have thrown their support behind new legislation preventing property developers from running on local council.

With the LGA elections taking place in September, the Hunter contingent fully backs the latest laws, which were passed by the NSW Legislative Council.

An unlikely ally was senior state Liberal minister Matt Kean, who described allowing property developers to be elected as councillors as like “putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank”.

“Due to the nature of our role, we play an important part in land use planning and development approval,” Newcastle Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said.

“Councillors assess local developments and are able to grant approval, with or without conditions, or refuse an application for development.

“Local planning controls regulate density, height, external design, building materials, open space provisions, and the level of developer contributions required to cover physical and/or community infrastructure costs arising from the proposed development.

“So, having them on council would create a significant conflict of interest.”

While the legislation prohibiting property developers from standing for council passed the NSW Legislative Council, other regulations are in the pipeline, too.

The NSW Parliament is also considering legislature to ban real estate agents from running for council.

“Liberal Minister [Matt] Kean was spot on when he described allowing property developers to be on councils as like ‘putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank’,” Cr Clausen said.

“This is a serious issue of public attention.

“It is impossible to be both a developer and a councillor without conflict of interest.

“The elected council should be able to listen to the community without any significant bias.

“This just isn’t possible where you have a financial stake in development.

“Newcastle councillors will soon be asked to consider a motion backing the NSW Upper House’s legislation.”

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