WHAT it boils down to is that the Greater Sydney Community have been robbed of any rights through the LNP Planning Law changes, the Department of Planning & Environment (the DOPE) … an oxymoron right there, and the Greater Sydney Commission all set up it seems to benefit the construction consortia, their international clientele and their own deep pockets as members of the Elite Housing Class
When you venture to the Shire pages you will find comments like this about bad developments …
“We have a development happening behind us. First floor balconies were deleted as part of the approval process which we fought hard for, but guess what folks, the steel works for the balconies went up today and the developer says they are not balconies they are planter boxes that the council have approved. Out of interest friends, these planter boxes are 1.5 metres wide x 16 metres long??? ”
THE PLANNING PANELS CANNOT OVERCOME ANY PERCEPTION OF BIAS!
OCTOBER 31 2018
Residents protest against a boarding house DA in Charles Place, Jannali, which was initially refused, but approved after it was scaled back in size. Picture: John Veage
Only eight of the 72 development applications considered by the new Sutherland Shire Local Planning Panel over the last eight months were refused.
Fifty-three were approved, a further seven were approved subject to satisfying an additional request and four were deferred awaiting further information.
Sutherland Shire Council released the figures following questions from the Leader, sparked by complaints from residents about the operations of the panel.
Residents in Charles Place, Jannali, said a development application (DA) for a boarding house in their street, was the last of several contentious matters to be heard at one session.
They said the meeting, which started at 6pm, did not finish till after 10pm and the time they were allowed to speak was curtailed because of the late hour.
resident in another matter claimed to have been spoken to “rudely”, while there have been other complaints of the panel “not being accountable to anyone”.
Emotions have run high at some meetings, with a woman resident collapsing at one hearing.
The state government introduced the panels in February this year, stripping elected councillors of any say in development applications (DAs).
Council staff decide straight-forward DAs, while the panel determines those where there is a conflict of interest, contentious development (more than 10 unique objections), departure from development standards greater than 10 per cent and sensitive development
Some of these applications were previously determined by the former Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel (IHAP).
The panel comprises a state government appointed chair, two members appointed by the council from an approved pool of experts, and a community representative appointed by the council.
The council acts as the secretariat, managing correspondence.
Jannali residents were irate when the panel approved the boarding house DA, which was refused by IHAP in 2017 but resubmitted with a plan of management and the number of rooms cut from 10 to seven.
A resident, speaking on behalf of neighbours, said they were shocked at the decision because of “overwhelming arguments which proved the application failed to meet Australian Standards and was considered to be non-compliant”.
”Our matter, which was known to be controversial and to take some time, was scheduled to be heard last,” she said.
“There were several other matters listed for the night, including other contentious proposals, and as a result, we did not leave the meeting until after 10pm.
”We were told by the chairman to ‘limit our speaking time to just three minutes’.
“This was quite unfair, particularly when other speakers to other applications who were known to the panel (they were current councillors) were allowed to speak for around 15 minutes.
“Other general members of the public were noted to speak for 5-10 mins at least.
The resident said one panel member had to excuse herself from hearing the matter as she had been involved in the initial IHAP decision to reject the DA.
“By not having this member present, we were potentially one vote down in our favour,” she said.
A council spokeswoman said the panel was “ultimately accountable to the state government, specifically the Minister for Planning, Anthony Roberts”.
“The agenda order is based on a logical arrangement of site visits on the day and availability of access to those sites, and is ultimately decided on by the chairperson prior to the hearing,” she said.
“Matters heard by the [panel] are not prioritised to accommodate individuals.
“Both applicants and objectors are provided five minutes to address the panel, however the chair has the capacity to determine if this time needs to be varied.
“It is a decision of the panel to excuse panel members when they have previously heard a matter…
“That decision was based on several factors; to ensure a balanced decision, make sure equal opportunity is given to both applicant and objector and to avoid any perception of bias.”