How will our suburbs look in 20 years time and what will they be like to live in?
The answer to that question is being decided, not with input from the communities who live there, but by groups of faceless bureaucrats. This process has been evolving in Sydney for the past 20 years, but it has reached new heights under the current state Liberal government.
We are told that over 20 years Sydney’s population will increase by one million and more affordable housing is needed in the second most expensive city on the planet.
However, policies of both political persuasions have made things worse. Ku-ring-gai’s unique environment and heritage is being sacrificed to a developer-driven agenda. This has not delivered cheaper housing, or even delivered a choice in housing types.
In Sydney, state government and the planning department are dominated by developer lobby groups such as The Property Council and Urban Task Force. Ties between these groups are close. The head of Urban Task Force, Chris Johnson, is a former director of the NSW Planning Department. Lucy Turnbull is now the head of the new Greater Sydney Commission. These lobby groups have great access to planners and government ministers, as government meetings attended, show. Residents and communities have none of this access.
The power of the NSW Planning Department has percolated down into local council planning departments. Planning decisions are now made behind closed doors by bureaucrats. Their decisions are hidden behind ‘confidentiality’ clauses.
Our local elected representatives, councillors, should express community views and apply planning regulations. However, they are either by-passed or have their decision path set by planners. In addition, some councillors are members of political parties and, in their own interest, implement current government planning policy.
The drive for council amalgamation is merely the last step in the process of handing planning powers to men in suits. Amalgamated councils will have fewer councillors representing their communities.
The state Liberal government has worked hard to implement the bureaucracy-dominated, developer-driven model for NSW. With council amalgamation, it would seem they are about to deliver it!
Friends of Ku-ring-gai Environment is a community group which proudly promotes the natural, built and cultural heritage of Ku-ring-gai. For more information visit www.foke.org.au.