Campbelltown Council officially appointed three of the four people who will be instrumental in shaping the city’s future at last night’s council meeting.
The introduction of Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAP) means councillors will essentially have no say regarding development applications from March 1.
The four-person IHAP panel will be made up of a chair (appointed by NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts), two experts (shortlisted by Mr Roberts but appointed by the council) and one community member (who applied for the position and was appointed by the council).
Ian Reynolds will hold the position of chair while Mary-Lynne Taylor and Jenny Rudolph will serve as expert members. Cecilia Cox was endorsed at the fourth panel member.
Councillor Ben Moroney (Greens) said he had no issue with the four panel members, just the concept.
“Fundamentally, this is nothing more than a violation of democracy,” he said.
“The members are not elected by the community – they do not answer to the community.”
Mayor George Brticevic (Labor) and councillor George Greiss (Liberal) both said they were disappointed in their parties for supporting the introduction of mandatory IHAPs.
“It was bipartisan so I blame both sides of politics,” Cr Brticevic said.
Ms Cox said unlike the other three panel members, she had no planning expertise. Rather, she would bring a community voice to the decision making table.
“I was motivated to apply (for the position) because I think the community needs a voice commenting on developments in our area,” she said.
“I didn’t apply as an expert, just a passionate community member.”
Ms Cox encouraged the community to voice their opinions though submissions on developments and to attend the panel meetings would be held in a public forum.
Ms Taylor – who has worked in Campbelltown for the last seven years – said she understood why residents would be concerned that members of the panel who did not have intimate knowledge of the area would shape the future of the city.
However, she reassured the public that their input was valued.
“I’m happy for Campbelltonians to give anyone direct feedback. Council might look at setting up a page or website where they could do this,” the former Sydney West Joint Regional Planning Panel chair said.
“But better still, there is the opportunity for them (Campbelltown residents) to come and speak at the meetings which is what this panel idea is all about.
“I would love to play a small part in Campbelltown’s future and I expect to hear from the citizens of the city and to listen attentively.”
Ms Rudolph – a planning director at Elton Consulting – also said she welcomed feedback from Campbelltonians.
“Hearing the views of residents is a very important part of the process of achieving the best planning outcomes and a key part of the IHAP process when making decisions,” she said.
“Listening to people who make contributions and submissions will be a key element of making the decision that leads to the best outcome.”
Council will absorb the cost of the panel which is expected to cost about $80,000 a year with the chair set to earn $2000 per meeting. The two expert members will receive $1500 a meeting and the community member between $500 and $1500.
Cr Brticevic will meet with Mr Roberts in the coming weeks and ask that the state government reimburse council for the costs incurred by the panel.