The developer of a unit complex approved for McLachlan Street has welcomed new planning laws he says will allow council staff to do their jobs without interference from councillors or community members.
Pymble-based developer Eric Bernard said council staff were hindered in doing their job because of the political implications for councillors when his development was okayed last month.
“The process was prolonged and the outcome was modified, due to neighbour reaction, even though the development was permissible under the building code, council regulations and the zoning instruments,” he said.
“Much of the objection from neighbours was based on emotion and fear of change, rather than consideration of the permissible use of the land and compliance with the appropriate guidelines and laws.”
Despite having his seven-unit complex approved by the council, Mr Bernard had to change his original plans to demolish an existing cottage following four objections.
State opposition planning spokeswoman Linda Burney said the new laws would see the government break a promise to allow residents to object to a development once an application has been submitted.
“Prior to the election, Barry O’Farrell championed the return of planning powers to local communities - now we hear he will bypass local councils and remove their right to approve or refuse development applications,” she said.
Planning minister Brad Hazzard said last week the laws, part of an overhaul of the planning system, would see communities agree in advance on building types, heights and densities for a whole area.
Mr Bernard said the changes would give developers and the community certainty about what could be approved in a specific area and would allow councillors to focus on establishing sound policy.
“Councils are beholden to their constituents, they feel the need and obligation to respond [to objections],” he said.
“[But] they do have the responsibility to uphold the regulations and rules. I think [councillors] will be quite relieved in that change of law.”