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Cessnock LEP 2009 - Lies and Deceit from Cessnock Council and Planning Authorities

PUBLIC EXHIBITION OF LEP 2009 - THE BEGINNING OF THE END

It has been quite a while (some 18 months in fact) since the issue of a new Local Environmental Plan (LEP) for the Cessnock Shire was confronted by the Wollombi community and I am sorry to say that despite undertakings and assurances by both Cessnock City Council and the NSW Department of Planning, given as a result of strenuous lobbying by a united community seeking justice and fairness for property owners rights and entitlements, we find ourselves in a worse situation than previously imaginable.

Draft Cessnock LEP 2009 is now on public exhibition (for a period of 10 weeks) and this signals the beginning of the end of what has been a long and tedious process for CCC to comply with NSW Department of Planning requirements for updated and revised LEP's to conform with the DoP's "new and simplified" template model of planning and provide "uniformity and consistency" across planning instruments in NSW. This of course is just the beginning of the misinformation process as we see firsthand the current Cessnock LEP 1989 swell with bureaucratic pride from a svelte 70 pages to a "simplified" Draft LEP 2009 of some 130 pages plus many hundreds of pages of associated documents, literature and planning instruments that must be read in partnership with the new plan if one is to gain any meaningful understanding of the content and practical implications contained within, for property owners.

It is not my intention to try and fully explain in detail the most significant and draconian elements of the new plan and how they apply to the Wollombi Valley (and any other area currently proposed to change to an Environmental Management E3 zoning) except to raise the following major points for consideration and further investigation by concerned property owners.

  1. the loss of dwelling entitlements currently provided for on "existing "holdings" in Cessnock LEP 1989.
  2. the loss of entitlements for tourist accommodation cabins currently permitted
  3. the loss of entitlements, currently permitted, for small scale agriculture (ie not on a commercial scale)
  4. the loss of entitlements currently permitted to erect stables.
  5. the loss of "exempt development" concessions (only recently introduced into the current Rural 1(a) zone)
  6. the subsequent and significant loss in value of all property effected by these restrictions. I estimate that certain properties will be rendered virtually worthless if these changes were to come into effect. What would you pay for a property that you could not legally undertake any development on?

The Wollombi Valley is being unfairly singled out for changes that will have a dramatic impact on property values and amenity over the next 20 years and forever change the nature of the region in which you chose to invest in. We have been given no practical or plausible explanation by council planning officers as to why this is so other than "to add to the suite of Environmental Zones in the Cessnock Shire". We are being offered no compensation for the dramatic loss in values that will result as a consequence of these proposals. We have been lied to and deceived by both Cessnock Council and NSW Dept. of Planning officers.

It is also the beginning of the end for property owners and residents to have their say about these issues and take some control over their future, if they could care less. There is one thing that we know for certain and that is if we do not unanimously stand together to oppose these proposals then we will surely have the future bureaucrats and town planners deem we deserve with no one to blame but ourselves for our apathy and disinterest. It is clear that Cessnock Council planning officers (and by their complicity, Cessnock Councillors) are happy to see "the Wollombi" s