Councils’ scapegoat for slow DAs says LGSA

By Staff Writer

The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW has accused Planning Minister Frank Sartor of using local government as a scapegoat to justify removing planning powers from communities.

Minister Sartor released the Local Government Performance Monitoring Report 2005-06 yesterday, and according to President of the Local Government Association of NSW, Genia McCaffery he is using it to justify a major changes to the NSW planning system.

“Minister Sartor is grandstanding on council DA processing times to direct the blame to councillors and justify his intention to centralise planning power in Macquarie Street," Cr Genia McCaffery said.

"Councillors only deal with five per cent of DAs – a fact confirmed in the Minister’s own report. The ones they do deal with are usually complex or controversial. To say councillors should not debate these DAs or ‘get objectors in a room and solve it in half an hour’, as he suggested this morning, is short sighted and unrealistic.

McCaffery says local government accepts there is the need to improve the planning system, but that it is unfair to lay blame squarely on councils.

President of the Shires Association of NSW, Bruce Miller, said that while the report demonstrates the complexity of the planning system it is flawed.

"It focuses on the 20 councils taking the longest time to process DAs, if you do the maths, 87 per cent of councils processed applications in a net median time within the 40 day limit."

"The benchmark is also out of date and inappropriate – because it suggests that assessment times should be the same for garages as for waterfront mansions. It doesn’t reflect the reality of modern urban living," Cr Miller says.


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