The Beagle Editor,
This week, the state Southern Regional Planning Panel approved the council’s controversial Development Application for the Mackay Park project – see the DA and Panel determination at https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/planning-panel/regional-arts-aquatic-and-leisure-centre-and-demolition-existing
The Planning Panel members did note the community views in their report approving the DA but were constrained in their deliberation by the fairly narrow range of criteria they can take into consideration - these criteria are strictly related to purely planning issues that do not include community views about a development or even if it is in the public interest. Council now will no doubt proceed to calling tenders from the list they have already made - so it will not be an open tender process - and when these tenders are in, councillors have resolved to then determine if the project is "affordable" but there is no current publicly available business case for any of us hoi polloi to see if this could be the case. If council can't afford to forgo a 2.6% rate increase this year, or give an equivalent rebate to ratepayers as is happening in the Shoalhaven, one must wonder how councillors could agree to take on additional on-going costs - possibly between $2 and $3 million per year - in subsidising the development's operations and maintenance. These on-going costs are on top of losses to the community when assets like the Batemans Bay Community Centre and the Visitor Information Centre are sold to help pay the project's capital costs. Councillors, please be responsible. If you're challenged by the system and the numbers, put it to the pub test!.... better still, seeing the pubs are out of action, have a shire-wide survey mailed out detailing the facts and asking a few objective questions!
Jeff de Jager