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