Remote Planning Panel meetings cost $12,000 each

Central Coast’s Local Planning Panel will consider new rules to hasten the pace of development application decisions.

The number of complaints about a development will need to reach 15 before it triggers the Local Planning Panel to get involved, under changes being discussed.

The Planning Panel is looking at more development applications to be delegated to Council staff to decide.

The Planning Panel meeting on December 10 will consider how to “hasten the pace of development determinations”.

One option is to reduce the number of matters being considered by both the Regional Planning Panel and the Local Planning Panel, through an increased level of delegation to staff for minor/less significant matters.

A second option is an Approved Submissions Policy which Council staff are currently compiling and which will go to the Council (Administrator) for approval.

“Such a policy may impact on the number of applications referred to the Local Planning Panel for determination,” the report to the meeting says.

Other options are making use of electronic determinations and dealing with matters which do not require a public meeting, and dealing with a slightly higher number of matters per meeting.

The report also notes the costs so far of each meeting since the Panel started meeting in June.

It has met 13 times.

Meetings have cost almost $12,000 each.

The sitting fees and travel expenses of the Panel members totalled about $6,570 per meeting and the costs grew to $11,865 with the additional cost of Council staff and secretariat services.

The Panel says these estimates are based on the conduct of remote meetings.

It assumes they would increase were meetings conducted in person, as a result of booking meeting space, catering, cleaning, security and other arrangements.

The Panel will also consider a number of development applications (see separate story) in its last meeting for the year.

The panel is then not scheduled to meet again until February.

Merilyn Vale