Democracy needed in planning process

Letters forum

Matthew Wales’ claim that reducing the number of DA objections required to trigger a referral to Council will “impede the orderly development we need’ (“Chamber opposes lower submission threshold”, Peninsula News, January 29) is, of course, patent nonsense.

Unless he means, by “orderly development”, a free flow of shonky projects along the lines of the Atlantis proposal in Ettalong, the Sporties proposal in Woy Woy and the West St proposal in Umina. If, as he avers, “the staff should be able to … assess these applications without having to constantly refer them to the council”, why are we faced with the ongoing uglification of the Peninsula which is only slowed by the persistent efforts of a small number of residents who take the trouble to identify problem applications and make their views known to the Council? On the basis of past performance, it seems doubtful that many residents would have much confidence in leaving planning decisions entirely in the hands of Council staff. Admittedly, a Council whose most important action in recent weeks has been the removal of rubbish from Umina Beach and councillors whose main concern is the placement of banners on West St are weak reeds to rely on for anyone concerned about the future direction of the Peninsula.

The mayor still hasn’t proceeded beyond her inspiration that the development of the Peninsula requires “thought”, and, if it takes two years to prepare a plan for Woy Woy centre, the prospects of a definitive plan for the whole Peninsula must lie in the dim, distant future. By the time of the next election, it looks as though the only achievement Council will be able to point to is the resurfacing of Ryans Rd, and even that required a hefty injection of political pork-barrelling to bring about. Still, what else do we have? Feeble as it is, the Council is our only protection against the sort of vision projected by Mr Wales. In my view, there should be a more systematic procedure for lodging objections with Council than we have now, a better system of communication from Council about the handling of objections and a reliable process for informing objectors about the results of representations. This is called democracy.

Email, 30 Jan 2018 Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy

First Published in the Peninsula News print edition Feb, 12, 2018

Share this story