Local matters

14 January 2011

Currently Blacktown Council’s policy is to boycott its local joint regional planning panel. As a result the three state government members constitute the panel, while the council is unrepresented. Some Councilors are now questioning the value of the boycott and have asked for the policy to be reviewed. A local media report here.

100 hectares of rural land at the north of Junction Hill for new urban development have been “eleased”. The NSW Government says that this will create approximately 750 new housing lots in the Clarence Valley. The release area is located north of the existing Junction Hill township, with the Summerland Way (Casino Road) and the North Coast Railway extending along the western boundary. The Government’s media release is here.

“Partial” concept approval has been given to the Sandy Beach residential subdivision located 3km south of Woolgoolga, near Coffs Harbour. However, this approval was issued only after the number of permitted lots was significantly reduced. The applicant sought approval for 280 lots, but approval was granted for only 200 lots. This significant reduction in development potential has apparently not satisfied local opponents who remain convinced that the site is not suitable for residential development of this nature due to environmental constraints, including sea level rise.  The Government media release is here.  Local media is here.

The Huntlee New Town site near Branxton has been formally listed as a State significant site (SSS). A planning agreement for the transfer of conservation offset lands and other commitments has also been approved. The Government media release is here and the amendment to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Major Development) 2005 to list the site as being a “state significant site” is here.

Newcastle City Council is exhibiting a draft Section 94A Development Contributions Plan until 7 February 2011. Apparently a Council review of the plan has been undertaken to update the schedule of works to be funded by the development contributions. However, the Plan remains in two parts and the maximum contributions remain unchanged. Part A of the Plan applies to the majority of the local government area, except for Blue Gum Hills. A maximum contribution rate of 1 per cent of the development cost is payable in this area. Part B of the Plan applies to the Newcastle City Centre where a contribution of 3 per cent of development cost is required.  Further information is here.

Shadow Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, has expressed concern about a Housing NSW development for Telopea which will see 1,900 homes with an expected 3,000 new residents built over the next 10 years. Mr Hazzard used the opportunity to re-state his view that planning powers needed to be restored to the community. “Councils may not always get it right but they and the community know better than Macquarie St about the needs of their areas,” Mr Hazzard said. “If we win government in March, the centralised approach to planning will go.” More detail is here.

Media reports suggest that the Department of Planning have given Warringah Council more time to respond to changes required to their draft local environmental plan before being made. Apparently the Department of Planning had made a number of changes to the Council’s draft LEP and then provided the Council a tight timeline to respond. It seems that the Department has agreed to the Council’s request for more time to formulate a response. This matter will most likely come before Council for discussion and determination early this year.  More is here.

The NSW Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, has insisted that Yass Valley Council finalise its comprehensive local environmental plan (LEP) as soon as possible. Apparently the Council has been having difficulty resolving rural land use issues, particularly appropriate minimum lot sizes in rural zones. Council had asked that they be permitted to prepare two LEPs, one for urban and the other for rural areas. Mr Kelly has not agreed to this request and suggested that the existing minimum lot size be transferred to the new LEP. If the Council wants to amend this minimum lot size at a later date, it can do so by lodging a planning proposal. A council report detailing these issues is here.