Deputy Mayor challenges staff over developer meetings

Central Coast Mayor Jane Smith faces re-election on September 23, 2019.Central Coast Deputy Mayor Jane Smith . Archive 2019

Central Coast Council planning staff have attended 22 meetings of a group that represents the interests of developers.

However, they have not attended any meetings of other stakeholder groups over the same two and half year period.

In answer to questions from Deputy Mayor Jane Smith, the Governance Department said that staff from strategic planning and development assessment teams attended 22 meetings of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA Central Coast) during the period June 2017 – December, 2019.

Cr Smith’s follow up question asked if those staff had attended regular meetings of other local community stakeholder groups to provide updates on items on public exhibition or planning issues which may have been relevant to those organisations.

She suggested groups such as the chambers of commerce; the Central Coast Sports Group; the Community Environment Network or the Central Coast Youth Interagency.

The answer was no.

The report from the Governance Department quoted the Director, Environment and Planning, Scott Cox: “Planning staff from the Environment and Planning Directorate have not undertaken regular attendance at any meetings of the above mentioned agencies during the period of June 2017 – December, 2019.’’

Deputy Mayor, Cr Smith, said: “Councils play a critical role in strategic planning.

“I welcome engagement with groups such as the UDIA that represent the interests of the property development sector, however, I think we have the balance wrong,” Cr Smith said.

‘’We need to ensure that there is meaningful engagement with a much broader range of stakeholders and our community.”

Source: Agenda item 6.1, Central Coast Council meeting, April 27, 2020. Press Statement, April 28, 2020 – Deputy Mayor, Cr Jane Smith.