Planning to be out in the open

This article in the Melbourne  Herald Sun on Mon Feb 4, 2013.

Makes you wonder just how much sway the developers have with decision makers about the planning of our city.

Planning to be out in the open

MELBOURNE city councillors will be stopped from holding private meetings with developers who want to lobby them on building projects.

Councillors have agreed that senior council planning officers must be present at meetings, in order to avoid perceptions of conflicts of interest after big donations went to some candidates at last October’s election.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and his team received more than $100,000 from developers such as Central Equity, Richard Gu from the AXF Group, and northbank developer Clement Lee.

Rival candidate Cr Ken Ong, who is chairman of the planning committee, also declared donations from companies linked to Mr Lee and from a consultant working for Mr Gu.

The local government watchdog is investigating claims of cash-for-access that were made during the city council election campaign and also a bribery allegation going back to 2010.

Last week, councillors agreed to a new protocol that there be no more meetings with individual developers unless a senior planning officer also attended.

Planning to be out in the open

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