WESTERN suburbs mayors and councillors opposed to State Government Development Assessment Panels (DAPs) gathered with about 250 residents from across Perth at a community meeting recently.
DAP-allowed South Perth apartments to 29 storeys that were contrary to residents’ wishes triggered the meeting, where South Perth resident Vicki Redden said a planning policy clause allowing height limits to be relaxed was taken out of context by the DAP.
“Relaxation in this context meant one or two storeys above the norm, but for the DAP to allow a 400 per cent increase is a mockery,” she said.
Since 2010, developers with projects worth over $3 million can avoid councils and go to local and regional DAPs comprising three Government appointees and two councillors
Cottesloe Cr Jack Walsh told the meeting DAPs were unaccountable and left affected residents without appeal rights, and Subiaco resident Angela Hamersley claimed attempted third party appeals to the State Administrative Tribunal about DAPs often failed to get hearings.
Contentious projects involving DAPs have included multi-storey development where two extra storeys were allowed by Planning Minister John Day on Waratah Avenue, Dalkeith in the City of Nedlands.
“And at the Aria development in Swanbourne 50 units were permitted, and the DAP exploited a loophole and we ended up to over 100 units,” Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins said.
Mr Hipkins said WA should have the third part appeal rights of the eastern states, and DAPs’ accountability would be an issue at the next State Election given enough public support.
The meeting passed a motion of no confidence in DAPs, and called for councils’ planning powers to be returned. But a proposal to form an anti-DAP political party failed and instead it was decided to establish a residents working group to lobby for the abolition of DAPs and third-party appeals at the State Election.
Mr Day said DAPs and council decisions were made with relevant local planning schemes that gave discretion sometimes, and “the real issue” was not DAPs but those discretions, and any concerns about them should be taken to councils.
He said WA third party appeals rights about planning decisions never existed before DAPs, and people could seek court reviews of an error of law.