Media Release: Panel Measure Erodes Local Democracy

1 June 2017

A move to make Local Planning Panels (LPPs) mandatory in metropolitan NSW could further erode local democracy, the local government sector warned today.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) said media reports that the NSW Cabinet would today consider a plan to force all metropolitan councils to use independent panels to determine development applications over a certain value was a significant concern.
“Councils can now choose to use independent planning panels if the system is right for their area,” LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said.
“We welcomed the former Minister for Planning's determination not to mandate the introduction of LPPs statewide because they’re simply not necessary or suitable for all councils even though they work well for others.
“Media reports now suggest the Government is considering mandating them in the metropolitan area. 
“LGNSW is concerned that this has the potential to actually reduce the accountability and transparency of planning decisions.
“Councils are accountable to the community where LPPs are not.  There is no accountability like the ballot box.  
“ICAC and other watchdogs also have jurisdiction over councillors (and State MPs). 
“Councillors are their community's voice at the table - they have been elected to represent community views on key issues such as planning decisions which will have long-term impacts on neighbourhoods.
“The current decision-making model for the approval of DAs is not broken, and expert after expert has said just churning out DAs faster and faster won’t fix the housing affordability issue.
“The Planning Minister Anthony Roberts himself regularly promotes the record number of housing approvals – approvals delivered under the current system - and yet housing prices continue to rise.
“When it comes to LPPs, we say to the State Government: Don't mess with local democracy!"
Media Enquiries
LGNSW President, Cr Keith Rhoades: 0408 256 405
Media, Toni Allan: 0412 774 441