Watchdog shapes up for dogfight
DENIS MAGNAY has not got the boxing gloves on, but they're at the ready because of his concerns about out-of-towners deciding on developments in Ballina Shire.
The development application for a $16 million revamp of the Ex-Services Home, Ballina, he said, will be the first in which a Joint Regional Planning Panel will make the final decision after the State Government introduced them in July this year.
For developments over $10 million, for tourist developments over $5 million, and for council developments, two nominated local representatives will sit on the planning panel with three people appointed by the State Government.
The development application will still go to Ballina Shire Council and be debated by local councillors, with reports and recommendations by council staff.
But then the DA will go to the panel, which may choose to override any decision by council.
Mr Magnay, the president of Water Access To Encourage Recreation (WATER), said the Ex-Services Home DA would be a 'guinea pig' to see how the new decision-making process goes.
“All concerned residents are going to have to sharpen up our footwork,” Mr Magnay said.
“We are concerned that delegates would have little knowledge of the requirements for waterfront access to a place like Ballina. Nor would they be aware of the past planning of our shire and the feelings of the locals.”
Ballina Shire mayor Phillip Silver and group manager strategic services Steve Barnier are the local representatives on the panel. However, Mr Barnier's alternative, group manager civil services John Truman, will sit for the Ex-Services Home proposal as Mr Barnier has declared an involvement with another aged care facility in Ballina Shire.
Cr Silver said the new process introduced by theState Government 'without a doubt' was taking decisions away from local elected representatives.
“But we haven't got much choice. It's the law of the State,” he said.
The panel for the Ex-Services Home proposal will include the two local representatives, former general manager of Byron Shire Pam Westing, former general manager of Tweed council Dr John Griffin and former member of State Parliament Gary West, who will chair the panel which will not sit until early next year.