An audience of over 120 people attended the Town Hall meeting on Thursday night, 16 May, to learn more about the proposed changes to the NSW Planning laws. The meeting was organised by the Glebe Society, Pyrmont Action and Ultimo Village Voice, resident groups that are all members of the Better Planning Network. The meeting was ably chaired by John Gray, President of the Society.

The meeting was addressed by James Ryan from the Nature Conservation Council, Corinne Fisher, founder and coordinator of the Better Planning Network, and Elizabeth Elenius of Pyrmont Action. The speakers outlined the major changes proposed by the Planning White Paper and draft legislation, including:

  • placing economic growth at the centre of all planning policies and instruments and relegating sustainability and public good to minor consideration;
  • introducing a hierarchy of plans from the statewide to the local, and requiring all plans to conform to those above them in the hierarchy;
  • increasing public participation in drawing up  plans but taking away the right for the public to object at the development application stage;
  • reducing the number of zones, and replacing environmental and heritage protection with local character zones;
  • and aiming to have 80% of developments approved in ten days, within five years.

The meeting was then thrown open for questions, and those who spoke made it clear that these changes were all, to some degree, unacceptable, and constituted easing the path for development while reducing the role of both local councils and residents.

Neil Macindoe of the Glebe Society then proposed a resolution that outlined an approach to planning that would improve public participation and outcomes without the negative effects of the proposed legislation. It was approved unanimously, and has been forwarded to the Minister for Planning and other parliamentarians. The resolution can be viewed on the Glebe Society website.

The meeting was the first community event to be held in the newly renovated Glebe Town Hall, and both speakers and audience were impressed by the fine surroundings. The meeting was attended by the Mayor, Clover Moore, Deputy Mayor, Robyn Kemmis some other councillors and staff.