[Forum]I was one of about 50 residents who attended Central Coast Council’s Deputy Mayor, Jane Smith’s, meeting on planning for the Coast on January 16, and I think those active residents came away even more sceptical than beforehand.
Only Councillors Jane Smith and Jeff Sundstrom bothered making the time and, therefore, having some 13 councillors totally unaware of the active community’s concerns.
Just exactly where are our politicians and town planners taking us as a region? Are their intentions to include your wishes?
As the little we are being told, along with the many changes to State legislation and local policies, are effectively about taking community out of the consultation process and giving us less opportunity of having a say on our Coast’s future.
All levels of government have legislation, acts or policies, that they deem right for our future and every region is being dictated to by those same state rules.
Yet it is increasingly becoming apparent that neither level of government is interested in your opinion, as investors and developers gain the upper hand.
Council surveys indicate that our community sees our way of life, our bushland and our beaches as our priority, yet again this is not reflected in any of the planning outcomes.
Local Environment Plans (LEPs), Development Control Plans (DCPs), Local Strategic Plans, Community Participation Plans and a plethora of other policies that most of the community have never heard of or understand, have hidden impacts on their everyday life.
Community lands now deemed operational by council are potentially able to be sold.
There is no protection for our native flora unless it is identified and registered within the DCP.
We, as residents, know little about developments next door, let alone up the street or around the corner. Our allocated time to address Council meetings has been reduced from five minutes to three minutes, as long as the issue is on the agenda and you are approved by the Mayor to speak.
The battle goes on, with NSW Crown Lands wishing to unload protected bushland to local councils and indigenous land councils, whilst the community or ratepayers are kept in the dark.
State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs), complying developments, NSW Regional Plans or the sleeping giants, the many Structure Plans earmarked for the Coast having those faceless bureaucrats telling us what we need and not asking us what we would like, even though we are the major stakeholders.
The plans of the NSW state government are becoming increasingly obvious, as the Central Coast slowly becomes just another suburb of Sydney, with Council losing most of its planning powers, whilst politically appointed local planning panels are forced upon us due to the amalgamation.
Voting for a local representative, either Councillors or State Members, is becoming less important, as those faceless bureaucrats make decisions for us, and if there is any objection, simply changing the act or policy to suit.
Whether we like it or not, we are being led blindly, having the Central Coast now considered as part of the Greater Sydney Region, and the many changes to state acts, strategies and policies, is part of the stealth power play that is taking place.
You may think that your opinion has no influence, yet it starts with those we elect to look after our community’s interests, yet are they?
The NSW Liberal state government has no concern for the Central Coast whilst it is effectively a Labor stronghold, simply making unpopular planning decisions for our community being no concern of theirs.
Email, Jan 19
Gary Blaschke OAM