Planning Assessment Commission decried as ‘rubber stamp’ after high approval rate

“Little more than a rubber stamp”: Greens planning spokesman David Shoebridge.The independent authority that assesses some of the state’s most controversial developments has been described as a ”rubber stamp” after a study found it agreed with the Planning Department in 96 per cent of cases.
Nanjing Night Net

The Planning Assessment Commission has approved 222 of the 234 proposals it determined between April 18, 2011, and February 11 this year, according to research by the Greens.

These included the Cronulla Sharks Leagues Club redevelopment, the central coast’s Calga quarry expansion and the Ashton coalmine proposal in the Upper Hunter.

All 222 cases had been recommended for approval by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, the analysis found.

Only 12 applications were refused during the same period and only nine of these – or 4 per cent of all the PAC’s determinations – went against the department’s advice that they be approved.

Greens planning spokesman David Shoebridge said the PAC ”acted as little more than a rubber stamp” for the state government. The PAC’s approval rate shot up to 100 per cent when a matter was determined by a single-member panel, he said.

The criticism has been flatly rejected by Planning Minister Brad Hazzard and his department, which said the PAC often added consent conditions that differed from those it recommended.

Mr Hazzard said that, by the time proposals reached the PAC, they had undergone assessment by several government agencies and so ”have a reasonable chance of getting through the process”.

But veteran planner, lawyer and City of Sydney councillor John Mant said the members of the PAC were appointed by government and served at the mercy of their political masters. Cr Mant also criticised a separate ”pre-gateway review” process that uses the PAC or a joint regional planning panel to reconsider otherwise final council rezoning decisions.

The process allows developers to challenge unwanted outcomes if they can stump up the $5000 application fee and additional $15,000 if a review is granted.

Only one refusal has been upheld since the reviews were introduced by the O’Farrell government almost two years ago.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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