City of Joondalup flags support for third party appeal rights

Stock image.
Stock image.

THE City of Joondalup has flagged its support for third-party appeal rights.

These rights would allow someone who is not the applicant of a proposal to appeal a planning decision.

Traditionally, the State Government, WA Local Government Association (WALGA) and local governments have opposed third-party appeal rights and WA is the only state that does not have them.

Currently, only an applicant can appeal a decision through the State Administrative Tribunal.

Joondalup planning services manager Chris Leigh said at last month’s council briefing that since 2008, there had been many changes to the planning system that have “impacted the decision making powers of local governments” and so WALGA had prepared a discussion paper to see if there was still opposition to third party appeal rights..

“For decision-makers such as the DAP (development assessment panel) and local governments, third-party appeal rights would mean making decisions would become more contentious, complex and resource-intensive,” he said.

“The City currently determines between 1400 and 1500 development applications each year, of which 95 per cent require a discretionary decision.”

He said while affected parties were consulted when discretion was sought, if third-party appeal rights were extended to these applications, it would result in “a significant impact on City resources”.

Mr Leigh said appeals could range in cost from $1000 to $20,000, including a hearing, and up to $100,000 for complicated appeals involving legal representation.

He said it was recommended the council advise WALGA that third-party appeals should only be considered for local governments to review DAP decisions.

“There may be merit in the City having third party appeal rights against DAP decisions if ever needed in the future, particularly as these proposals are typically more significant and therefore have the potential to have a greater impact on the broader community,” he said.

However, at the meeting, Cr Russ Fishwick moved an alternative motion to advise WALGA of the City’s support for third-party appeal rights.

He said they could provide “better planning outcomes based on full and proper assessment, taking in to account local knowledge and transparency of decision-making, resulting in greater community confidence and better, high-quality development”.

“Most jurisdictions in Australia have long provided for third-party appeal rights, suggesting they are perceived to be of benefit to the community,” he said.

Cr Liam Gobbert said the City already had a process where affected parties were consulted and “irrelevant considerations” that were not based on planning issues were “filtered out”.

He said he thought ratepayers would be “appalled if their money was spent on defending decisions of dubious planning merit”.

“Why should someone who is unaffected by a planning matter, and why should someone who disputes a decision on the grounds of an irrelevant consideration, be allowed to contest the decision.”

The alternative motion was passed 7-5, with Mr Pickard and Crs Gobbert, Kerry Hollywood, Tom McLean and Philippa Taylor voting against..

The City of Wanneroo will consider the discussion paper at its August meeting.