Planning panels flawed: Councils

DAPs take power away from local government councils to decide on developments worth more than $10 million.

Developers with projects worth more than $2 million can also “opt-in” to have them assessed by a DAP.

Its problem, according to many councillors and planners in local governments, is that local planning schemes developed by councils with public consultation are routinely ignored. They also argue the odds are stacked against local interests because only two out of five of those on the panels are from the respective local council.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the feedback he had heard from City of Fremantle DAP members was that the process “isn’t adding a lot of value to the planning approvals process”.

“The Fremantle Council is fortunate to have both a strong Design Advisory Committee and Planning Committee which have been very supportive of quality new developments in Fremantle,” he said. “Personally, I would support a review of how well they have worked over the last few years.”

Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said the City would support a review of the DAP process.

At tonight’s City of Belmont council meeting, Councillor Janet Powell will introduce a motion calling for a comprehensive review of the operation and structure of DAPs.

It follows City of Bayswater’s lead to write to Planning Minister John Day to call for an urgent review of the DAP system.

City of Vincent took it one step further and voted to recommend abolishing DAPs completely – a motion City of Stirling will also consider at a future council meeting.

Mr Day said a review of the DAP system was conducted in 2013.

He said the DAP system was working and only a small fraction of cases went against local government recommendations.

“Of the 1000 applications since DAPs were introduced in 2011, only a small number have been contentious, the vast majority progress without issue,” he said.

“Recent analysis by the WA Local Government Authority found that 94 per cent of applications are determined in accordance with the recommendation of the local government.”

Despite those figures, WALGA is fervently against the DAP system.

WALGA president Lynne Craigie said she wanted to see it scrapped completely.

“At the very least, a thorough cost-benefit analysis of the process should be undertaken so that there is transparency about what the system is costing developers and the community,” she said.