Widow "used and abused" by NSW Planning Minister

A MOUNT Vincent woman says she has been "used and bloody abused" after NSW Planning Minister Tony Kelly used her eight-year battle with Cessnock City Council to limit the council's planning powers, and then his department said this week there was nothing it could do for her.

"I don't believe any of them now," said Wendy Bishop, who has fought since 2002 to build a house on land bought at a council unpaid rates auction.

"I've waited all this time since I first made the complaint to the minister [in November last year] for a one-page piece of nothing."

Mrs Bishop's fight with the council was one of 10 cases cited by Mr Kelly in May when he asked the council to show cause why its planning powers shouldn't be removed.

Mrs Bishop and her late husband bought the Sandy Creek Road block by mistake after inspecting a neighbouring block on which a "for sale" sign had been placed in error.

They outbid the council, which had planned to buy the land for road widening purposes.

Mrs Bishop's attempts to gain approval for a house on the sloping site had left her "stripped bare" both financially and emotionally, she said.

A majority of councillors rejected a motion to buy the land from her in 2007, but the subsequent approval has been dogged by access problems.

Mrs Bishop broke down while describing the impact of receiving a letter from NSW Planning director Sam Haddad this week which concluded: "Unfortunately the department is unable to assist you in this matter."

"They didn't say that when they took down my complaint," Mrs Bishop said. "They were all very helpful then."

Mr Haddad said his department had referred her case back to the council, which was appointing consultants to conduct an independent review of its planning functions.

But a council spokesman said the independent review was not planned to consider individual case handling.

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