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COMMUNITY OUTRAGE ON PLANNING

ISSUE

When a councillor appears to support constituents’ views, but then votes the other way, the community can become angry and distrustful.

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SCENARIO

Steve’s constituents are furious because he’s voted in favour of a major apartment development which many in the community have opposed. They believe they made this very clear in meetings with him, as well as during consultations with the applicant which he chaired.

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WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

Councillors can often have multiple roles on planning applications, which can be difficult for constituents to understand. While councillors are obliged to consider their community’s views this doesn’t mean that they can vote in favour of those views. Councillors have to make decisions based on whether the application is consistent with the local planning scheme. This can reduce the scope for councillors to vote according to their personal opinions or reflect the views of their constituents.

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HOW TO TACKLE THIS SITUATION

  • councillors need to be clear what role they are playing in different stages of the application process
  • councillors should try to ensure that their constituents understand these roles
  • councillors need to understand their administrative role as part of the local planning authority
  • councillors should ensure that they are able to be persuaded by the information and advice they receive at the decision making stage.

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