4 December, 2022
New committee to focus on planning
A NEW committee has been established to deal with the growing number of planning matters before Tablelands Regional Council, but Mayor Rod Marti has made it clear he doesn’t support the move.
The new committee, which will meet on the second Thursday of every month, was initiated by Cr Peter Hodge who believes the council must be more responsive to the development industry.
During the lengthy discussion about whether there was a need for the committee, Cr Hodge said planning applications had doubled or even tripled than a few years ago, creating a greater demand on officers.
“We need two meetings a month to deal with all the items from planning,” he said.
“(Planning) consultants are very, very worried about getting applications to council because if they miss a date (deadline for reports to come to council), it’s another six weeks before another meeting is held so it’s imperative that we have an extra meeting a month to handle these applications.”
Cr Hodge said consultants were also “scared” that the workload on officers to get reports to a monthly meeting could “lead to failures”.
“People from the industry are saying it’s needed,” he told the meeting.
But Mayor Marti was opposed to the move, saying “it’s a big call to double our meetings”.
“We are working towards a better way to deal-ing with planning matters – change is underway, it’s happening and we are moving in the right direction,” he said.
“The justification (for a second meeting) is not there and for us to go from 12 to 24 meetings, there has to be major benefits.”
Cr David Clifton backed the move, saying delays in decision making, even by as little as six weeks, could have financial ramifications for developers, particularly as inflation levels continued to rise.
“We have an obligation to the people who want to develop in our region to be as responsive as we reasonably and professionally can,” he said.
CEO Gary Rinehart agreed the planning department was “under the pump” and very busy, with applications twice what they were a year ago.
Cr Bernie Wilce agreed that the additional meeting every month could work and said he would support the move if it assisted with the ef-ficiency of the planning department but wanted it to be reviewed after a period of time.
The change got over the line by just one vote, with the first meeting of the new Planning Committee to be held on 8 December