Cessnock Council

24 August 2010

The NSW Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly has announced the appointment of an independent expert panel to undertake the planning functions of Cessnock.

The appointment follows his request in May for the council to show why its planning powers should not be removed due to a history of delays in dealing with rezonings and development applications.

The panel will exercise the following roles of the Council:

  • the assessment and determination of development applications with a value of more than $1 million;
  • the assessment and determination of development applications with a value of more than $100,000 which are still undetermined 90 days after being lodged; and
  • assessing and determining rezoning proposals.

The panel will not, however, take on the role of preparing Cessnock’s new council-wide LEP. This responsibility will remain with the Council.

“Based on 2009/10 figures, Cessnock is again looking set to be the slowest of all Lower Hunter councils in processing DAs,” Mr Kelly said.

“In reviewing Council’s performance in recent years, a constant theme of unexplained delays and unresolved issues became very clear.

“A number of proposals were also progressed despite a serious lack of strategic justification and were clearly inconsistent with the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy.”

The three-member panel has been appointed for a period of five years with its operations to be reviewed after two.

The panel members are:

  • Tim Rogers (Chair) – more than 20 years experience as a senior official within the NSW Government, including executive positions within the Department of Local Government and the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water;
  • Alison McCabe – currently a Director of SJB Planning, has 25 years experience in both local and State Government planning roles and is a member of the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel; and
  • Vince Berkhout – currently a Director of Cité Urban Strategies, has experience working as a planner in both local and State Government agencies and is a member of the Ku-ring-gai planning panel.

More information, including the government’s examples of unacceptable planning practices, is available here.