DEVEL­OP­MENT REG­IS­TERS IN­VES­TI­GATED

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By JON BAS­SETT

CAM­BRIDGE and Pep­per­mint Grove coun­cils will con­sider public records of coun­cil­lors’ con­tacts with prop­erty de­vel­op­ers, af­ter the City of Vin­cent adopted the pol­icy last week.

“We are go­ing to have a look at it,” Cam­bridge Mayor Simon Wither said.

The de­vel­oper con­tact reg­is­ter pro­moted by Vin­cent Mayor John Carey re­quires a writ­ten record and pub­lish­ing on his coun­cil’s web­site each time a de­vel­oper makes con­tact with his city’s coun­cil­lors.

But Mr Withers said Cam­bridge coun­cil­lors had “few” meet­ings with de­vel­op­ers and most of his Town’s devel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions went to a Devel­op­ment As­sess­ment Panel, of which three of five mem­bers were State Gov­ern­ment ap­pointees.

A reg­is­ter would have to pre­cisely de­fine what con­sti­tuted con­tact.

“If de­vel­op­ers want to talk about de­vel­op­ments, it should re­ally be in a for­mal set­ting,” Mr Withers said.

Pep­per­mint Grove Pres­i­dent Rachel Thomas has asked that dis­cus­sion of a reg­is­ter be on the agenda for a con­cept fo­rum be­fore the coun­cil’s meet­ing this month, de­spite the small shire hav­ing limited com­mer­cial devel­op­ment.

“In the in­ter­ests of trans­parency, how­ever, per­haps a reg­is­ter is ap­pro­pri­ate,” chief ex­ec­u­tive John Mer­rick said.

Clare­mont Mayor Jock Barker said there was “no need” for a reg­is­ter be­cause of his pol­icy for coun­cil­lors and him­self not to have di­rect con­tact with de­vel­op­ers.

“I never ac­cept the ‘cup of cof­fee in­vi­ta­tion’, as pri­vate meet­ings by coun­cil­lors with de­vel­op­ers are fraught with dan­ger, hence in Clare­mont we just don't do it,” Mr Barker said.

When de­vel­op­ers did make con­tact, he sent them to his staff to ar­range a for­mal, recorded meet­ing.

“And not with­stand­ing all of that, I rarely grant de­vel­op­ers ap­proval to brief the coun­cil with­out the same op­por­tu­nity be­ing af­forded to par­ties which may be ef­fected by a de­vel­oper’s pro­posal,” Mr Barker said.

Ned­lands Mayor Max Hip­kins said a reg­is­ter was un­nec­es­sary be­cause al­most all devel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions there were res­i­den­tial, and pro­pos­als such as new Wool­worths and Aldi su­per­mar­kets were ex­cep­tional.

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