The Changing Face
Image source: SMH
NSW Premier Mike Baird and the Minister for Local Government Paul Toole announced 19 new councils in NSW which commenced 12 May 2016. The Minister has indicated his in principle support to create a further nine new councils, subject to the decision of the courts.
Although the amalgamations have been a contentious issue and have faced ferocious opposition from some local Council areas, it does provide an opportunity for the new Council areas to look at the “big picture” instead of focusing only on each municipalities own needs. Amalgamation will increase the "strategic capacity" of Councils. The new Council’s will have the ability to share resources which will include a higher calibre staff, more financial resources and more co-ordination over larger regions to better plan transport, deal with more complex developments and interact effectively with state and federal government. For example, the redevelopment of Parramatta Road previously involved 10 councils and at least three state departments. With the amalgamations this reduces the amount of Council’s involved by half.
This increase of strategic capacity provides an opportunity for Council’s to prepare more meaningful strategic planning policies. David Lock Associates has significant, experience helping Councils transition through the amalgamations process with respect to providing town planning and urban design services. We have lived and worked through similar changes which occurred in Victoria in the late 1990’s and found that we were able to successfully assist councils and their council staff with the delivery of new planning and urban design strategies and policies that brought together the similar but sometimes disparate and contradictory strategies and policies of adjacent councils which are now unified as one greater entity.
David Lock Associates also have an understanding of how the Council’s will function through this transitional phase, in particular the function of each individual planning department and the panels that they will be reporting to. A number of Council’s have or are in the process of establishing an independent hearing and assessment panel with a delegation to make final and independent determinations on development applications and recommendations for Planning Proposals to Council that are referred to it.
To find out more about how we may be able to assist you within this transitional period please contact Kirsty Smith in our Sydney Office, +61 2 9699 2021.