IN a week when residents were invited to attend a forum on planning better suburbs, the integrity of the council’s plan for North Orange took another body blow as it was overruled once again on a proposed petrol station and fast food outlet at Farrell Road.
The O’Farrell Government’s Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) has ignored yet again the objections of residents, councillors and council planners and shunted the KFC and Woolworths petrol station proposal another rung up the ladder of approval.
Despite local objections to changing the use of a parcel of residential land on the Farrell Road/Telopea Way intersection, the JRPP thinks it is a good idea anyway.
In the insidious world of planning by government decree, the ruling has a sense of inevitability about it.
According to the logic of the JRPP, the area around the disputed block has already been so degraded by decisions to allow other commercial activity that it is no longer suitable for residential use.
The residential zoning allows many low-impact commercial uses, like the childcare centre just a chicken nugget’s throw away, but not a fast food outlet and certainly not a petrol station.
But like dominos, poor planning decisions - some by council certainly, but others by panel members who answer to no-one west of the Great Divide - have seen the hurdles of local interest fall one by one.
The next stop on this drive-through process is the NSW Planning Department, which knows exactly how Premier O’Farrell feels about local planning processes that slow down development.
Unless this high-handed approach is stopped, residents of North Orange could wake up one day to find a hardware store plonked behind the goal posts at Waratahs.