Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) will send four councillors to this week’s NSW Local Government Conference in Sydney where state government planning reforms are set to be the hot topic.
Councillors Romola Hollywood, Chris Van der Kley, Don McGregor and Brendan Christie will attend the three-day forum, where guest speakers include NSW planning minister Brad Hazzard.
Clr Hollywood said she hoped all councils will join together to call on the NSW Government to commit to a further round of consultations on the reforms, saying the scale of the reform agenda “is unprecedented”.
“We need to make sure the community is fully informed about the extent of the proposed changes and can have a say,” Clr Hollywood said.
“We have identified the Draft Metropolitan Strategy’s (DMS) proposal to extend the metropolitan urban growth area up to Faulconbridge which could have devastating effects on our fragile bushland and lead to competing rather than integrated planning approaches across our region.
“This is just one of many changes that could lead to local government planning powers and local decision-making being eroded.”
Clr Hollywood said she would also support a motion at the conference to oppose recreational hunting in national parks.
Following a rally, led by the Blue Mountains Conservation Society (BMCS) in Faulconbridge on August 25, Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage confirmed the community’s concerns about the DMS “were being noted” by the government and “consideration would be given to moving the boundary closer to the foot of the Mountains (rather than Faulconbridge) in the final strategy”.
Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said on Monday council’s delegates at this week’s conference “will support those proposals that support the Blue Mountains”.
“We want to preserve the rights of residents to have a say on developments that affect their properties, we want to see the plans to divide the Mountains withdrawn,” Clr Greenhill said.
“The whole council is united in this.”
According to a Sydney Morning Herald report on September 21, Mr Hazzard told parliament that planning officials will review and redraft some of the proposed reforms before they are introduced in the lower house.
BMCS president Peter Ridgeway said on Friday this was good news, but more information was needed.
“Obviously we do welcome the review that’s happening now but we are still out there asking for some consultation,” he said.
“It’s a bit unclear as to what is going to be kept, changed or dropped.”
Meanwhile, BMCC forwarded its finalised Draft Blue Mountains Standard Instrument Local Environment Plan 2013 in late September to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure on the basis that stringent protections in its current LEP are translated and maintained in the new standardised format required.
A council business paper report revealed a “productive” meeting was held on August 21 between Mr Hazzard, senior council staff, the mayor and deputy mayor in which the minister agreed to include provisions in the new LEP to protect threatened flora species and to consider creating a new zone category that would resemble “living conservation” in council’s current LEP.