Inner West Council Embraces Planning Panel

Inner West Council has tonight agreed to introduce an independent hearing and assessment panel (IHAP) to be known as the Inner West Planning Panel.

The IHAP will see a panel of independent planning experts and a community representative appointed to determine certain development applications – generally those that are larger or more contentious.

The move comes after a successful model in the former Leichhardt Council saw significant drop in both legal costs and complaints.

In welcoming the introduction of an Inner West Council IHAP, Administrator Richard Person said Council will appoint a panel of planning experts for an initial two year term, and will include experienced members of the former Leichhardt Planning Panel.

“IHAPs are comprised of independent experts and community representatives and in my view add increased rigour, predictability and transparency to the assessment of DAs,” he said.

“Community involvement in the assessment of DAs is increased through the appointment of a community representative.

“With myself as Administrator the only determining authority in the present interim arrangements, the inception of the independent panel makes good sense from both a risk management and governance perspective.

“We will appoint the panel for two years so that incoming Councillors in 2017 will have time to review the panel and its success before determining whether to continue with the arrangement.”

The Inner West Council is expected to determine approximately 1,400 development applications (DAs) per annum with approximately 10% of these DAs coming before the Inner West Planning Panel.

The former Leichhardt Council introduced the Leichardt Planning Panel in February 2015 after a one year trial, however neither the former Marrickville and Ashfield Councils operated such a Panel.

Surveys of those involved with DAs determined by the Leichardt Planning Panel reported a high level of acceptance and support.

Its high-quality, transparent, and expert independent oversight of development matters was singled out for praise.

Survey results also showed high levels of satisfaction and confidence in the decision-making process from those that attended Panel meetings (both applicants and submitters).

IHAPs have been a component of the planning system in New South Wales since 2008 and, in addition to Leichhardt have operated in a number of (former) Sydney Councils including Waverley, Manly, North Sydney, Mosman, Warringah, Holroyd and Lane Cove.

The operation of the Panel will be reviewed after 12 months of operation.

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Page last updated: 20 Nov 2018