Sartor actions anger local councils
By Alex Easton
STATE Planning Minister Frank Sartor has taken control of more and more local development, and the NSW Local Government Association is not happy about it.
In a new report on the performance of councils, Mr Sartor accuses them of dragging their feet when assessing developments.
But all Northern Rivers councils are, on average, processing applications in under 40 days, with Byron Shire now off the list of the State's slowest 20 councils.
The Local Development Performance Monitoring report 2005-06 shows Byron spent an average 35 days considering DAs, down from 54 days in 2004-05.
Richmond Valley and Kyogle councils took more time over their DAs in 2005-06 (34 days and 27 days) than they did in 2004-05 (26 days and 18 days). Lismore and Ballina did not provide figures, but their 2004-05 result had them at 20 days and 22 days.
Mr Sartor said he would appoint planning panels to consider developments unless councils moved faster.
Local Government Association president Cr Genia McCaffrey accused Mr Sartor of making councils into scapegoats to justify taking planning powers from communities. Mr Sartor called in 26 North Coast developments in one year alone, she said.
Byron Shire Council planning director Ray Darney said only two per cent of Byron's DAs were voted on by council; the rest assessed by officers.
However, super-fast development, such as Brewarrina and Hay councils' two-day approvals, might upset residents more than tardy ones.
Byron shire's Ray Darney agreed that might not sit well with locals. "We have quite a learned community that wants to be involved," he said.