COUNCILLORS have voted unanimously in support of a motion that will see all business proposals considered likely to have a “social impact” in Baw Baw presented to them, regardless of the number of objectors.
Warragul ward councillor Gerard Murphy raised the general business motion at last week’s council meeting, asking that councillors receive reports from staff about “planning permits which have potential to cause negative social impact on communities.”
Presently councillors are only informed of proposed developments if five or more objections are made.
Cr Murphy later told The Warragul Citizen his motion was not designed to target specific industries, but named some he would like the council to be informed about.
“It’s not really targeting or warning of industries, we’re just looking at the social impact [on] the community of issues that may occur, like where hotels or nightclubs are open ‘till five o’clock in the morning,” Cr Murphy said.
LISTEN: Cr Murphy interviewed by The Warragul Citizen about his motion:If audio controls are not visible above or do not work correctly, click here to download the MP3.
“Gambling, any extra poker machines, we should be informed about the situation of late night or early morning five o’clock closings… if someone wants to bring an adult shop to the area I would like to be informed about it.”
“Under the planning scheme it’s allowed to happen, but we would like to be informed about it so we’re one step ahead… so we can talk to the community about it.”
Cr Murphy did however say the present system worked and the new requirement would not increase red tape.
“No, it’s not (more red tape),” Cr Murphy said.
“The actual process does work, the process does work.”
When pushed on why the requirement for reporting should be made given he believed the present system works, Cr Murphy said the process was not the focus.
“We’re talking about social issues, social issues for the community and sometimes social issues doesn’t concern (sic) what’s in the immediate area of a proposed industry,” Cr Murphy said.
“It has other concerns which are wider-spread within the whole of the community which could impact the whole community.”
Cr Murphy said the motion was prompted by the recent approval of a new nightclub in Warragul, which was not presented to councillors because it only received one objection.
“Whilst that’s all been properly passed by the council planners… we believe that we’d like to look at these things before they are actually [approved],” Cr Murphy said.
“Whilst we’re not against these, we’d just like to know what’s happening.”
“And also it looks at the general social issues of alcohol and hospitals and all this and also gambling… and there’s a whole social impact on our community and we just want to make sure we’re alerted.”
Neighbours to these kinds of planned developments are notified of planning applications.