Church wants Cessnock Council Removed
The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has written to the Department of Planning and asked that Cessnock Council be replaced as the planning authority for the Church’s own proposal to rezone approx. 300ha of rural land for industrial use.
The area at Black Hill is primarily a rural area and contains a large amount of bushland.
Local residents have asked Cessnock Council to tread carefully and conduct community consultation to determine what development types might suit the local area. Council has previously voted to hold a public meeting on the issue in late November.
Despite this the Department of Planning has given Cessnock Council an ultimatum to support the industrial land proposal or be replaced for this proposal by a Government appointed planning panel. The letter from the Department of Planning to Cessnock Council can be found in the ‘Attachments’ for tonight’s Cessnock Council meeting.
Greens Councillor James Ryan said ‘This is appalling heavy handed tactics by both the Church and the Government.’
‘This land is part of the infamous suite of locations put into the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy at the last minute by Frank Sartor without any community consultation.’
‘This proposal is causing as much bitterness and grief as the Catherine Hill Bay and Huntlee proposals have previously.’
‘If there is a lesson out of this it is that Governments and Councils should not make big planning decisions without genuine community consultation.’
‘It is a great shame.’ Mr Ryan said ‘That the Catholic Church is putting its own profit ahead of working hand in hand with the community and the Council.’
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