Extra steps have been put in place to ensure the development application for the controversial City Hub project is dealt with ‘‘independently and impartially’’, according to Shellharbour City Council.
The council has appointed an independent consulting firm to prepare the assessment report on the development application.
The development application will be determined by the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel.
Shellharbour council’s general manager Michael Willis said even though the council could have produced its own assessment of the development for the JRPP’s consideration, it had chosen to go through an external, independent consultant.
“The consultant has been appointed from a pre-qualified list provided by the NSW Department of Finance and Services, giving the council an arms-length role in the assessment and ultimate decision on the application,” Mr Willis said. The JRPP is scheduled to meet in May or June. The council is expected to consider awarding a fixed-price construction contract in August.
Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said once the application had gone to the Joint Regional Planning Panel for determination, the time frame on a decision would be in the JRPP’s hands.
Cr Kellie Marsh, who opposes the $57 million project, said if the council wanted an open and transparent process the assessment of the application had to be done this way.
‘‘I think at the moment the council is more concerned about justifying their actions, rather than listening to the community on the issue,’’ Cr Marsh said.
Meantime, Shellharbour City Council will hold a confidential extraordinary meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the sale of its Tullimbar landholding.
The council hopes to receive $35million from the sale of five properties to help fund the construction of the hub project, with the 42-hectare residential site at Tullimbar one of them.