The State Government’s highly anticipated White Paper on new planning laws for NSW has received a mixed reception from the local community.
Penrith Mayor, Mark Davies has welcomed the plan to overhaul the State’s planning legislation but admits that certain aspects of the White Paper will need further clarification.
“The last planning system was drafted in 1978 and has been amended and changed countless times, I think everyone agrees that there needs to be an overhaul,” he said.
One of the key priorities of the White Paper was to “return planning powers back to the community” but residents will no longer necessarily be consulted on individual development applications.
“They are going right to the beginning with this plan, getting residents’ feedback on the overall plan for the community first,” Cr Davies said.
“Public consultation will be moved right up to the front end of the process, not just when development applications come up.”
He said that the community will have their say on the overall plan for Penrith and then Penrith Council will deal with development applications that fit in with the community plan.
“If a DA complies with what residents have agreed in the community plan it will be deemed code applicable and processed, but if it does not fit the community plan then the development will be dealt with via other means through Council,” Cr Davies said.
But Cr John Thain said that there are dangers to having all community consultation up front.
“These plans are like mud maps and it may be difficult for residents to visualise exactly what they are agreeing to in the initial stages, but more time will be needed for Council to understand the full impact of the White Paper,” he said.
Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, said the new system will improve planning efficiency: “We are aiming for 80 per cent of applications to go through a faster code assessment process, which has the potential to save $174 million a year”.