CHANGES TO HOW COUNCIL OPERATES
n September 1 2017 the State Government stripped councillors in Sydney and Wollongong of the power to vote on development applications. The changes were made to reduce risk of corruption and conflicts of interests.
Councils are expected to concentrate on providing community services and preparing strategic plans and development controls for their local area e.g.LEP 2015 and DCP 2015.
Development Applications(DAs) worth less than 5million dollars will be determined by council staff.
DAs worth between 5 million dollars and 30 million dollars and some other types of applications will be determined by "Local Planning Panels" Previously called Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPS) which have now been renamed.
Each council in NSW must establish Local Planning Panels (previously named IHAP) Sutherland Shire Council already has a panel which consists of 4 members - 3 experts and one community member.
DAs worth more than $30 million will be determined by Regional Planning Panels.The Sydney South Planning Panel is one of 6 Regional Panels in Sydney. It consists of 3 expert members appointed by the State Government and 2 Council representatives. 2 Councillors currently represent Sutherland Shire Council.
For more information about the panels see NEW STATE PLANNING page.
Council has expressed concerns that the changes take the views of the elected council and the community out of the process. having a single community representative on a panel does not ensure a broad community view is represented and the community member is outnumbered by the expert members. A single communityrepresentative cannot replace the direct accountability that an elected councillor has to the community.
At the Council meeting on 18/09/2017, Councillors passeda resolution to write to the Minister for Planning seeking an exemption from the requirement that an IHAP or council staff be the determing authority for development applications less than $30 million. Council requests that the elected Council maintain the ability to call up and determine any DA having a value less than $30 million if, in the opinion of an elected Councillor, it is in the community's interest to do so.
Council motion MOT006-18 18/9/2017
Council has re-instated a separate Planning Committee.
The number of Council meetings open to the public has been reduced to 2 per month – 1 week committee meetings and 1 week a full Council meeting.
The number of items on the agendas of committee meetings which are open to the public and the amount of information in council staff reports for these meetings have been reduced significantly. Meetings are of much shorter duration since late 2015.
Much of the information which used to be available in reports which were publicly accessible, is now dealt with in the following ways:
- Councillors attend 2 meetings per month for oral briefings by Council staff. These briefings are confidential and not open to the public.
- Councillors receive weekly bulletins which are not available to the public.
You can view Council meeting dates and business papers on Council’s website. On the home page click on “Council”, then click on “Meetings and Minutes”; then “Business Papers”