BATHURST Regional Council has been encouraged to improve its notification methods of development applications and planning, for the benefit of residents.
At the last two ordinary meetings, resident Chris O’Rourke has used the public forum to implore council to keep residents better informed of developments that may impact them.
His frustration at council’s current notification methods stems from the George Park Master Plan, which was not communicated to all nearby residents, who Mr O’Rourke believes should be considered stakeholders.
“My issue with the original George Park proposal was that the public were for all intents and purposes kept in the dark until David Goldney asked a question,” he said.
In recent months, Mr O’Rourke has conducted his own research to see what other similar regional councils and Sydney were doing.
“The most transparent is Sydney. This may part be due to the size and complexity of the area it encompasses,” he said.
“For example, the appendix to its DCP (Development Control Plan) contains three pages of detailed diagrams showing exactly which property owners will be notified.
“The least transparent and vague in terms of DAs and notification … are Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo and Taree.”
Mr O’Rourke said he agreed with an article printed in the Western Advocate, which stated that residents may not have been aware of any plans for George Park until machinery arrived.
He said this had happened before, in 2013, when machinery was brought in to excavate for the George Park amenities building.
“I phoned council and asked ‘Shouldn’t we have seen a DA for that?’ and the answer was ‘No, because you aren’t affected’,” he said.
He didn’t take the matter further at the time, choosing instead to learn to live with the new building.
Mr O’Rouke said the DCP was quite vague in terms of who is notified and requested that council change its notification policy to ensure more residents are notified of developments near them.