Open Letter from the Coalition of Concerned Councillors
published in the Age 09/06/2009
OPEN LETTER to Premier Brumby and Minister Madden
Governments have to make difficult decisions. We understand that. However
recent planning reforms have gone too far. In the past few months your
1. Introduced legislation to deprive local communities of their normal rights to have their own elected representatives make decisions on development applications in their larger shopping centres;
2. Planned to appoint a government-dominated committee to
i) make decisions,
ii) require local residents to write a blank cheque to pay for the committee, and
iii) demand Councils pay the cost of defending the committee's decisions even where residents and Councillors may strongly oppose those decisions.
3. Removed the rights of residents, Councils and VCAT to make decisions on development applications which are deemed important economy boosting opportunities. The normal rights of residents to appeal have been taken away. Applications are now decided behind closed doors.
4. Removed both the rights of residents to be advised of applications next door to them, and to express concern about applications involving social housing and private schools where government funding is involved.
These measures demolish the cornerstone of this state’s planning system – the rights of residents to have a say about their neighbourhood. These rights are at the very heart of our democratic system of governance.
The use of the economic downturn to justify the denial of these fundamental rights is short-term thinking with disastrous long-term consequences. How can communities have any confidence in a planning system where the ends justify the means?
It is time to reinstate residents’ rights; time to return democratic planning processes to the people who elected you to respect and protect those rights in our society.
COALITION OF CONCERNED COUNCILLORS
Postscript: Click here to view a report on the success of the June 10 rally