Following on from the 2019 Discussion Paper (for which the Forum and many residents made submissions) the Dept of Planning released a draft Local Character Clause for comment in November last year. On 18 January, Council agreed a submission that included the following comments –
- The community has previously raised concerns about the perceived erosion of local character by unsympathetic development in certain areas.
- Council may consider introducing the proposed local character provisions in the SLEP for certain areas (eg Berry, Milton, Kangaroo Valley, Nowra CBD Fringe, certain coastal villages), subject to consultation with affected communities
- The provisions should provide clear direction for a consent authority to consider local character and desired future character.
- A DA should be required to explicitly address the Local Character Areas Statement through a ‘statement of consistency’ or similar. This would give the community confidence that character considerations are being addressed.
- Land identified as within a local character area should automatically be exempted from complying development.
At present there is limited opportunity in the LEP, other than through individual heritage listing, Heritage Conservation Areas or the use of the scenic protection layer, to strengthen consideration of character impact. The Local Character Clause would help manage character impacts arising from new development in areas like the older part of Berry and Kangaroo Valley.