Stronger councils good for a growing city and state: Chris Johnson

Stronger councils good for a growing city and state: Chris Johnson
Stronger councils good for a growing city and state: Chris Johnson


The management of growth across Sydney should be helped by the NSW government announcement of 17 new councils through amalgamations.

The NSW government has needed to take on a reform agenda for local government for decades and is now delivering.

The announcement that the government is proceeding with the formation of 17 new councils including 7 in metropolitan Sydney should finalise debate and lead to more effective councils. 

The government is also supporting in principle 9 more new councils including 6 in metropolitan Sydney subject to court decisions and this is likely to also lead to more effective councils.

The most important thing is to finalise the transition quickly so strategic planning and development assessments are not disrupted.

The Urban Taskforce has seen delays to planning decisions for large projects that have been caught up in the proposed amalgamations and a clear decision on the final structure of council boundaries should give clarity to responsibilities for planning decisions. We urge the government to ensure that planning determinations have clear processes for decision making during the transition phase to the new councils.

There would appear to be a role for the Greater Sydney Commission to take over some planning decisions in Sydney during the transition to the new councils through their two planning panels. Now that the 6 District Commissioners are appointed the new panels should be able to get underway soon.

The amalgamation of rural councils should lead to more effective servicing of communities but towns that are a long distance apart will need local service centres for their communities.

The Urban Taskforce is keen to work with the state government on ensuring planning services, particularly for approvals, are not disrupted during the transition to the new council structures.


Chris Johnson is chief executive officer of property development industry group Urban Taskforce and can be contacted here.

Sydney Councils

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