Wingecarribee Shire Councillors have used this year’s NSW Local Government Conference to draw attention to a number of issues they believe are affecting local governance both in the Highlands and across the state.
Chief amongst the concerns raised at this year’s conference were proposals to amend mandatory State Government Development Application (DA) procedures for new dwellings and alterations.
Councillors from Wingecarribee Shire requested that the State Government investigate amending the standard Local Environmental Plan template that applies to all councils across NSW. The amendment seeks to remove Boarding Houses as being mandatory permissible in low density residential zones.
Councillors instead suggested that councils be able to decide for themselves if they wish to allow this type of development within these low density residential areas to protect the amenity of local communities.
Wingecarribee Shire Mayor Councillor Duncan Gair said the items raised affect all councils.
“The Motions submitted by Wingecarribee Shire Council and represented by Councillors Nelson, Andrews and myself found broad support from all the delegates,” he said.
“One of the key Motions we submitted suggested cutting red tape at a State level to help expedite the processing of new dwelling development applications,” the Mayor said.
“Another suggestion put forward was to allow dwelling house applications to be considered under a single application,” he said. “This process would then be similar to a complying development rather than the current multi-stage applications that can cause delays.”
Yet another Motion that drew widespread support was a request that the State Government address the inadequate base level of funding provided to councils for the preparation of Plans of Management.
At present councils across the State are provided a one-off $30,000 provision to prepare Plans of Management (PoM’s) for parcels of Crown Land located within their boundaries. These PoM’s are required to be completed within three years.
“Our Shire alone has over 60 areas that fall under the Crown Land Management Act,” Mayor Gair said.
“Each of these areas subsequently requires Council to prepare a detailed Plan of Management that are both costly and time consuming to prepare,” he said. “In fact staff estimate the preparation of these Plans could cost our community in the order of half a million dollars.”
“We simply ask that the State Government provide more funding and realistic time frames to prepare these important documents.”
Other items submitted by the councillors included a greater commitment towards Local Government libraries and a report into the current lack of diversity amongst councillors across the State.
“Following the support of our Motions from the other delegates, we’ll now be preparing a report back to Council which will determine our future course of action,” Councillor Gair said.
“This will likely involve lobbying our State and Federal Members.
“At the same time our council counterparts from across the State have promised that these concerns will also be raised with their Members until changes are affected.”
The 2018 NSW Local Government Conference was held in Albury from 21 to 23 October.