DAPs set for elec­tion scrap Mark it down as a win for democ­racy

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By JON BAS­SETT Jon Bas­sett – Reporter

RES­I­DENTS of 45 Perth com­mu­ni­ties af­fected by de­vel­op­ments ap­proved by un­elected de­vel­op­ment as­sess­ment pan­els (DAPs) will take their fight to the 2017 state elec­tion.

A lobby group, Scrap the DAPs, was formed at a Mos­man Park meet­ing on Wed­nes­day night to fight back against re­cent de­ci­sions of DAPs that have ruled against lo­cal coun­cils’ rec­om­men­da­tions.

“There is no plan­ning as­sess­ment process in WA, as what we have is a plan­ning ap­proval sys­tem,” former Cottes­loe lawyer San­dra Boul­ter said.

Ms Boul­ter said WA needed third-party ap­peal rights so neigh­bours to de­vel­op­ments had power in DAP de­ci­sions, given there was no le­gal con­nec­tion be­tween what was planned and then de­vel­oped.

Across Perth, 21 coun­cils have passed mo­tions op­pos­ing DAPs, which com­prise two lo­cal coun­cil­lors and three state ap­pointees who can de­cide on any de­vel­op­ment worth more than $3 mil­lion if a de­vel­oper by­passes lo­cal govern­ment, and re­place most plan­ning pow­ers held by coun­cils.

Groups fight­ing DAPs in­clude res­i­dents fac­ing pro­pos­als of de­vel­op­ments up to 26 storeys in res­i­den­tial South Perth, Scar­bor­ough and cen­tral Fre­man­tle, and R100 den­sity in Al­fred Cove, Ap­ple­cross and Kens­ing­ton.

Other DAP de­ci­sions af­fect­ing com­mu­ni­ties in­cluded in­fill at By­ford, Vic­to­ria Park and Bur­swood apart­ments, and medium den­sity up to nine storeys in Bayswa­ter and Guild­ford.

“Mos­man Park Mayor Ron Nor­ris or­gan­ised the meet­ing af­ter his coun­cil and res­i­dents op­posed an en­larged shop­ping cen­tre in the town, but were over­ruled by a DAP last year.

Mr Nor­ris said Scrap the DAPs could tar­get mar­ginal state seats like Bel­mont in the elec­tion, but the lobby’s unit­ing aim was to re­store plan­ning pow­ers back to coun­cils and peo­ple. PAR­TIC­I­PA­TORY democ­racy has a good day when dis­parate res­i­dent groups join to help each other and their com­mu­ni­ties in bat­tles over what they say are out-of­place de­vel­op­ments.

A stern chal­lenge is needed to De­vel­op­ment As­sess­ment Pan­els dom­i­nated by un­elected mem­bers with much po­ten­tial power over back­yards, streets and neigh­bour­hoods.

With the hous­ing boom over, in­vest­ment apart­ment pur­chases on the wane and a loom­ing state elec­tion, it may be the time to re­jig plan­ning and build­ing pow­ers.

Perth must solve fit­ting in one mil­lion res­i­dents by 2030, but no group gives up power lightly. The #ScraptheDap lobby needs to of­fer some­thing other than just op­po­si­tion to the present plan­ning regime.

Carte blanche third-party ap­peals to panel de­ci­sions are a recipe for a plague of gar­den fence ar­gu­ments, but a de­fined role for ap­peals has ap­peal.

Coun­cils could also con­sider giv­ing their rub­bish col­lec­tion du­ties to govern­ment in ex­change for more plan­ning power over our streets.

Op­po­nents of DAPs are plan­ning to take their fight to the next elec­tion.

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