Submissions accepted on Draft Community Participation Plan

Central Coast Council Photo: Justin StanleyCentral Coast Council Photo: Justin Stanley

Central Coast Council is revising its Community Participation Plan, a plan that tells residents how to have their say on planning matters.

The plan needs updating because the State Government changed some rules about advertising potential developments and because the Central Coast now has a Local Planning Panel.

The plan is designed to make participation in planning clearer for the community.

It does this by setting out in one place how and when people can participate in the planning system, Council’s functions and different types of proposals.

The State Government amended the rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic so councils could electronically publish notices and exhibition materials on their websites.

Amendments removed the requirement for Council notices to be advertised in newspapers.

It says in the Plan that this is not a temporary measure and will be ongoing.

Strategic plans, policy proposals and major developments are displayed on Council’s website.

Material is generally removed on the day following the expiration of the exhibition period.

No development applications are determined by the elected Council, they will either be determined by the Local Planning Panel, the Joint Regional Planning Panel, or by staff under delegation.

However, the report explains that Council assesses all developments and sends them to the relevant panel for determination.

The report says that public Panel meetings are an important part of the determination process for a development application and meetings for both Regional and Local Planning Panels are open to the public.

“The purpose of the meeting is for the Panel to hear those who wish to express their view on a matter before a determination is made,” the draft Plan says, although it doesn’t explain that the determination part of the meeting is done privately.

Developments which meet State Significant Development (SSD) or State Significant Infrastructure (SSI) criteria are determined by either the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces (or the Minister’s delegate), or the Independent Planning Commission.

The draft Plan lists all the different rules and regulations for which panel deals with which type of development application.

For example, the Regional Planning Panel deals with anything over $30M as a rule of thumb but can do lesser developments for a variety of reasons.

The Local Planning Panel (LPP) rules on conflict of Interest Development Applications and contentious applications which have attracted 10 or more public submissions.

The LPP also deals with those development proposals that contravene a development standard within an Environmental Planning Instrument by more than 10 per cent and sensitive proposals such as those involving heritage items, licenced premises, or residential apartments of four or more storeys in height.

The Planning Panels may undertake independent reviews of some Council and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment rezoning decisions.

The draft says: “By providing an opportunity for an independent body to give advice on LEPs, the review processes allow Councils and proponents to have decisions about the strategic merits of proposed amendments reconsidered.”

The draft LPP explains that residents wanting information on developments still need to refer to the Council’s Development Control Plan (DCP) which provides further detailed information on the notification procedures for different types of development.

Council actually still has two DCPs; one for the former Wyong area and one for the former Gosford area.

The draft LPP says that this information will soon be transferred into Council’s new draft DCP which will apply to the entire Central Coast area following the adoption of the draft comprehensive Central Coast Local Environmental Plan.

The current DCP identifies whether a development proposal will notify adjoining residents and will be advertised publicly.

Council is accepting submissions on the draft Community Participation Plan until 5pm Thursday, November 12.

Merilyn Vale