Clash airs Maitland developer woes  

PETER BLACKMORETHE revitalisation of Central Maitland is being held back by demands on developers not required by Maitland City Council’s own planning rules, a councillor has claimed.

In a sometimes tense debate last night, during which mayor Peter Blackmore defended council planners, Cr Arch Humphery appealed for some “common sense” to make Maitland a “can do” council again.

The debate was brought on by a notice of motion from Cr Humphery calling for councillors to be briefed by developers on all multi-storey development applications for Central Maitland.

He wants the developers to explain the difficulties they are experiencing with proposals for residential and commercial projects in the centre of the city.

Cr Humphery is a strong advocate of “shop-top” housing.

He said development costs were being increased by demands such as requiring the history of derelict buildings to be documented before they could be demolished.

“Let’s not get too cute with the DCP [development control plan],” Cr Humphery said. “[Documenting a building’s history] is not in the DCP.”

Cr Blackmore said complaints from developers were “news to me”.

“I am sorry to hear these comments being aired in public,” Cr Blackmore said.

“Our staff is more qualified than those sitting around the horseshoe [the council table].”

Council was not changing the game rules, the mayor said.

General manager David Evans challenged Cr Humphery’s view that there was a residential market in Central Maitland but he said he did not oppose the suggested briefings.

Mr Evans said the council needed to talk to developers who had received consents but not acted on them.

Cr Humphery received support for his motion and it was later passed.

The briefings will be introduced for a trial period of 18 months.

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