Georges River Council considers community representatives for its new Local Planning Panel

Shortlist: Councillors, property developers and real estate agents will be ineligible to be members of the new Local Planning Panels.
Shortlist: Councillors, property developers and real estate agents will be ineligible to be members of the new Local Planning Panels.

The list of community representatives to be part Georges River Council’s new Local Planning Panel will remain confidential until the next council meeting.

The state government requires all councils to appoint Local Planning Panels, formerly known as Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs) which are to be in place and operational by March 1.

While Georges River, Bayside and Sutherland Shire councils already had Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels they are required review their membership and to appoint new community representatives.

Under the new State Government requirements, DAs below $5 million will be determined either by council staff or the Local Planning Panel, those between $5 million and $30 million by the Local Planning Panel and more costly projects by a regional panel.

The Department of Planning and Environment has advised that councillors, property developers and real estate agents will be ineligible to be panel members as this will undermine the objective of having DAs determined by independent experts.

A Georges River Council report recommends the appointment of its current IHAP chair, Adam Seton, as the chair of the new LPP, and the appointment of Paul Vergotis and Sue Francis as alternate chairs.

The council will also appoint a minimum of six community representatives compiled from a list after calling on the public for expressions of interest.

A total of 16 people have expressed an interested in being community representatives on the Local Planning Panel.

Of these, one was declared ineligible due to being a current real estate agent.

A working group reviewed the applications, ranking them in order considering their expertise, knowledge or experience of the development process, their extent of time in the local government area, their extent of community involvement, and whether they had any previous experience on an IHAP or similar planning panel.

From these the council will select six members for the new planning panel.

The new LPP will commence from March 1. If the panel members are not appointed by this date, the LPP meetings cannot be held.

The Minister for Planning can appoint the panel members if the council has not appointed them by March 1.

The confidential list of potential community representatives will be presented to the council’s Environment and Planning Committee next week.

A final list is expected to go the next meeting of Georges River Council, due to be held on Monday, February 26.

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