The Central Coast will have a Local Planning Panel in place by the beginning of March.
The introduction of the panel was announced by the State Government in August, 2019, to a mixed reaction.
While it was welcomed by the business and development community, then Central Coast Mayor, Jane Smith, described it as a “power grab”.
Central Coast councillors knocked back a motion from Liberal Councillor, Jilly Pilon, to express support for the panel at their meeting on September 25, 2019.
In January 2020, Mayor, Lisa Matthews, said that while councillors felt their ability to represent the community was being taken away from them, they had to “work with what we are given”.
It is expected that the panel will assess developments valued between $5M and $20M, with developments valued at more than $20M going to the Joint Regional Planning Panel and others applying directly to the Department of Planning for approval as State Significant Developments.
Council will now be left with the power to approve only minor projects.
Member for Terrigal and Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, said the inaugural Central Coast Planning Panel would be chaired by planning and local government expert, Donna Rygate.
“The Panel will bring greater accountability and transparency to our region’s planning system by making decisions on sensitive, complex and high value development applications,” Crouch said.
“Ms Rygate’s expertise in governance and planning, particularly her track record as Chief Executive of Local Government NSW, makes her the ideal person for the job.
“Ms Rygate also understands the needs of local communities and she is committed to integrity and proper process.
“Her appointment will ensure the Panel performs its work with accountability and transparency.”
The two alternate chairs will be Jason Perica and Kara Krason, both town planning experts with a thorough understanding of local issues, having served on the Joint Regional Planning Panel and with decades of experience in the private and public sectors, Crouch said.
Central Coast Council will now choose the remaining panel members from a pool of 200 experts with a background in planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism or government and public administration.
Council must also sign-off on the appointment of the NSW Government’s recommendations for the chair and alternate chairs, and will choose the Panel’s community representative.
“Putting decision making in the hands of the experts will allow councillors to focus their time and energy on the core business of local government,” Crouch said.
“We know that between 2016 and 2041, an extra 95,250 people will call the Central Coast home, which is why our community needs greater certainty about planning decisions.”
NSW Business Chamber, Central Coast, this week welcomed the announcement and urged the new panel to accelerate development strategies to improve the region’s competitiveness.
“Conditions for growth have changed in light of the recent triple threat of floods, bushfire and drought, and business confidence is at an all time decade low,” Regional Director, Paula Martin, said.
“Fresh thinking by the panel to encourage business investment and growth is needed to position the region for future challenges.”
Media release, Feb 19
Member for Terrigal, Adam Crouch
Media statement, Feb 19
Paula Martin, Regional Director, NSW Business Chamber Central Coast
Coast Community News, Aug-Oct, 2019