LAUNCESTON aldermen risk Supreme Court action if they privately visit proposed developments or attend public meetings.
Tasmania’s planning laws lay down precise requirements that permit authorities must follow when determining developments or they face being challenged under the Judicial Review Act.
Legal advice recently prevented four Hobart aldermen from voting on a subdivision near Lady Franklin Museum after they attended a public meeting surrounding the divisive development.
Aldermen and councillors are free to inspect proposed development sites but doing so without following proper procedure, like being accompanied by a council officer, could lead to grounds for appeal in the Supreme Court.
Launceston aldermen regularly inspect proposed developments as a group chaperoned by council building officers.
“The onus is on individual aldermen to deal with a planning proposal on its planning merits within the requirements of applicable legislation,” council acting general manager Rod Sweetnam said.
“According to the government it’s more a case of doing everything right rather than doing anything wrong.
“I understand the challenges that arise when elected officials are required to balance their role as representative of the community and their statutory role to support the land use planning processes,” Minister for Planning and Local Government Bryan Green said.
“ All councils need to make sure that appropriate processes are in place and that decisions are transparent.”
The Hobart subdivision which highlighted the issue was later approved by Hobart City Council’s development and environmental services director after aldermen could not form a quorum.
The project, being undertaken by former state treasurer David Crean, will go before the council again on January 30.
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