Thursday, 28 September 2017 17:07

Getting the balance right: IHAPS

Mayor of Penrith, Cr John Thain Mayor of Penrith, Cr John Thain Photo: Penrith City Council

As I watched the local council elections unfold across the weekend, I found myself considering the new and interesting test we all face as local councillors – the impending Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAP) legislation.

It raises serious questions around how we can continue to balance our communities’ needs with growth in our cities.

The proposal to remove development application decision making from locally elected officials, and give it to independent panels made up of members from outside the affected areas poses an important question: who represents the community voice?

Penrith Council is no stranger to the challenges of growth, and we understand and support the need for strategic planning, a reduction in red-tape and greater efficiencies for development. But growth is only good for the city if it’s also good for our community. All development decisions must benefit the community as much as they do the private sector, while providing the adequate and robust infrastructure for future growth – and that’s how we approach decision making in Penrith.

How do we know what’s best for the community? It needs to come from the people who are on the ground, those who talk to local residents and business owners and understand local issues. This insight is essential in making sure we get the balance of development and community right across the Penrith region now, and into the future.

And it’s this insight that, if an independent panel is appointed as proposed in the new IHAP legislation, will be lost. How can this panel determine what is best for our region if they don’t know our region, and aren’t having those conversations on a daily basis?

As a local councillor I am heavily invested in my community, and strive to continue shaping the City of Penrith into a city of the future – one that provides fantastic amenity, transport, housing, jobs and business for all. This can only be achieved through a considered approach to development through the lens of locals acting on behalf of their community.

I am asking the State Government to defer this legislation until they can provide a better guarantee on how locals and local interests will be represented during the decision making process of development applications for Penrith, and for all Local Government Areas.

Our communities deserve to know who will represent their voice at the decision-making table.

 

Mayor of Penrith

Cr John Thain

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 October 2017 10:06