Labor-Liberal Alliance votes against community consultation on planning

Media release 9 April 2013

Labor-Liberal alliance votes against community consultation on Planning Agreements

The Labor and Liberal Councillors and Marrickville’s Conservative Mayor Victor Macri have voted against notifying the community before Council decides to enter into negotiations with a developer for a Voluntary Planning Agreement.

Greens Councillor Max Phillips said: “The Greens have consistently fought for the right of the community to be informed when Council is considering entering into a Voluntary Planning Agreement with a developer.

“Last week the Greens moved to insert protections for community consultation into a new draft policy, which will guide how Marrickville Council negotiates “Voluntary Planning Agreements” (or ‘VPAs’) with developers.

“The Labor-Liberal Alliance on Council instead voted to approve the draft policy with only the bare-bones requirements for community notification required under the current law,” he said.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said: “The draft policy and the current law mean that Council can negotiate a VPA which would breach planning standards with a developer in secret. Council could then enter into the agreement without even putting the agreement out for public consultation or notice – if the Council feels it is not “practical” to do so.

“Mayor Macri and the Labor-Liberal Alliance are misleading the community if they claim that this draft policy will ensure community consultation about VPAs,” Clr Ellsmore said.

The Labor, Liberal and Conservative Business Independent Councillors last month voted down a similar Motion by Green’s Councillor Max Phillips which would have ensured a presumption in favour of transparency when planning agreements are being considered. At the same meeting those Councillors voted to sanction Councillor Phillips for notifying the community in December that Council would be debating an offer by Meriton to massively exceed their development approval, in exchange for millions in cash, through a VPA.

“Planning decisions should be made in public. The Greens urge residents to contact their local Councillor to let them know that residents don’t want to be kept in the dark about important development decisions,” said Councillor Phillips.

Media contact: Greens Clr Max Phillips 0419 444 916 and Greens Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

Infrastructure, Planning and Environmental Services Committee Meeting 2 April 2013

Item 6 – Draft Voluntary Planning Agreements Policy 

RECOMMENDATION

  1. That Council resolve to publicly exhibit the draft VPA Policy for 28 days.

Greens amendment – Moved Clr Phillips, Seconded Clr Ellsmore

  1. The draft VPA Policy be amended prior to exhibition to include:
    1. The insertion of a section on community consultation which outlines how and when the community will be involved and consulted;
    1. Confirmation that the general nature of a voluntary planning agreement be made clear to the public as part of the publicly available business paper, when the elected Council is deciding whether or not to enter into negotiations;
    1. Confirmation that where a voluntary planning agreement involves any significant exceedance of planning regulations or Council’s policies or plans or involves a substantial decision that affects Council infrastructure or services, that the general nature of the above be made public and that public consultation occur to inform Councillor’s prior to a decision to enter negotiations;
    1. Confirmation that any confidentiality relating to a voluntary planning agreement be restricted only to specific information when confidentiality is required under legislation or regulations, and that the reason for confidentiality is clearly articulated and justified to Councillors and the public, and that where an item is considered confidential, every reasonable efforts will be made to provide a public version of Council papers which omits any confidential details, but still allows the community to be informed about the general terms of the proposed voluntary planning agreement.
    1. Amendment of existing sections, including the VPA flowchart, to indicate clearly to the community and developers the points at which the community will be involved and consulted.
    1. Insertion of a requirement that the time and location of any meetings held between a developer and any Councillor and/ or staff be recorded in a ledger which is publicly available.

Also available on the Council website www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au

Council Meeting 19 March 2013

Item 6 – Green’s Notice of Motion: Transparency in Dealing with Voluntary Planning Agreements

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