Planning act to go local
THE recently-elected NSW Government is in the process of fulfilling one of their core election promises – to repeal the contentious Part 3A of the Planning Act which currently sees major construction projects assessed at a state level rather than local.
Last Thursday, Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Brad Hazzard said the change would see planning power for these projects, defined as being worth over $100 million or being coastal subdivisions, go back to councils to increase community involvement in their outcomes.
However, while the government puts the finishing touches on how these projects will be assessed in the future, as an interim measure dozens of applications which were awaiting approval at the state level have been returned to their respective councils for evaluation – none were from the Clarence Valley.
Clarence Valley Council deputy general manager Des Schroder said this wasn’t really surprising given the lack of projects of that size in the area.
“Quite frankly it probably makes little difference here, we have few major projects like they’re talking about in this area,” Mr Schroder said.
“The only one we would’ve had in the council which would’ve been a true 3A, was the Blue Dolphin development which was about $250 million, all parts of it – hundred million dollar developments don’t come along every day. I mean you could have some big resort development here but I don’t think that’ll happen here for a long time given the GFC feedback.”
Mr Schroder said the advantages of major projects returning to council for approval could be better community input in the process and said the council had the capacity to perform the role.
However, he said until the new system was decided and the role (if any) of the Regional Planning panels, which assess multi-million dollar projects in the area was determined, it was hard to predict what the overall effect would be.