Wed, 26 May - 21:00
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Speech to Parliament: Constituency Statements - Town Planning

I rise to raise a matter of grave concern to residents in my electorate of Bradfield. The New South Wales Labor government has added another chapter to the shameful story of undemocratic planning decisions in Ku-ring-gai with the approval by the Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly, of the Ku-ring-gai Town Centres plan. This plan will permit developments of between six and nine storeys in the town centres of Roseville, Lindfield, Pymble, Gordon, Turramurra and St Ives. It is a gross violation of the principle that local planning decisions should be in the hands of people who live locally, who are accountable locally and who are concerned about the local impact of those decisions. But, by contrast, this plan has been approved by a Labor minister in Macquarie Street with little knowledge of—and even less sympathy for—the unique heritage and character of the Ku-ring-gai area. Frankly, there is a large element of political payback in what state Labor is doing to the upper North Shore, because they perceive it as an area which votes Liberal.

Under Labor’s Metropolitan Strategy, the target for new dwellings in Ku-ring-gai is 10,000. Since 2004, approval for 5,022 dwellings has already been granted, according to the Treadstone review released last year by then planning minister Keneally. If 5,022 dwellings have been approved in five years, what comfort is there that the limit of 10,000 will not be reached and exceeded well before 2031—the stated end date under the Metropolitan Strategy? I have therefore written to Minister Kelly calling for much greater transparency in the information which is provided about approvals. He should provide a quarterly update on his department’s website of all dwellings approved in the previous quarter for each of the Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby local government areas and the cumulative total approved since the Metropolitan Strategy took effect.

But, more fundamentally, we need to stop Labor’s politically motivated attack on the Ku-ring-gai area and its relentless desire to destroy the traditional fabric of our area. The only effective way to do this is to elect Barry O’Farrell and the state Liberals so they can implement their promise to restore planning powers to local communities, to overhaul planning legislation and to scrap part 3A of the New South Wales Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. It is vitally important that local planning decisions are made by people who live locally and are concerned about the unique heritage and character of the local area. Only if these democratic planning principles are adopted will things return to the way they ought to be.