Byron Shire Council has lodged a concerned objection to State Planning Minister Frank Sartor’s proposal to alter the NSW Planning legislation, which is proposed to be considered by Parliament next month.

The Acting General Manager, Mr Ray Darney, said that while the council agreed with a philosophy to improve the planning system, all the Minister’s proposals would do was to  make it more complex, while at the same time taking away citizens’ rights.

Mr Darney said that primarily the system had become too complex by successive amendments over the past 15 years to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, which was gazetted in 1979.

The Department of Planning over the years had caused simple legislation to become too complex, to the stage that most citizens found they needed support from planning consultants to assist them through the process of making an application.

Mr Darney said that continuing to fiddle with the original legislation was not making anything easier for the community.

Some of the major concerns that the council has with the proposals include:

The loss of rights of citizens to object to many developments including dwellings erected upon adjacent lands which might affect views, privacy or sunlight.

The increased powers being granted to private certifiers.

The proposal that Mr Sartor or other authorities can make local environmental plans in any shire within the State. At present the Minister and some authorities can grant development approval, but previously they could not make local environmental plans.

Loss of Section 94 contributions from developers to enable councils to upgrade facilities due to growth.

Mr Darney said another major concern that had already been highlighted in the Sydney press was that the Minister intended to give himself the power to acquire private land for resale purposes. 

Mr Darney said this legislation was designed to ensure that private owners could not stand in the way of developers subdividing land or redeveloping areas for urban development.

While State and local governments have been able to acquire land by compulsion for road works (an example being the Pacific Highway) or for other important public infrastructure, Byron Shire Council considered that the compulsory acquisition for private development and resale has a high risk for corruption and offended fundamental property rights.

Mr Darney said that while the council had submitted an urgent response to the Minister’s proposals, he had no high hopes that submissions made by local government would hold much weight with the Minister.

More information can be obtained from the council’s website www.byron.nsw.gov.au, under ‘Current Matters’, including a copy of the council’s submission on the proposed legislation, and a link to the ‘Keep it Local’ LGSA site.