THE Joondalup council will not conduct community consultation during its annual summer recess despite pleas from Duncraig residents.
The City held a special council meeting on Tuesday night to reconsider a December decision regarding two amendments to its district planning scheme.
At the December meeting, the council unanimously agreed to advertise amendments 88 and 90, which seek to reduce the density in part of Duncraig from R20/40 and R20/60 to R20/30.
However, the City’s policy is to not advertise in the break between the last council meeting in December and the first in February because many people are away.
Residents urged the council in December to allow advertising during the break, which ends on February 20.
Cr Mike Norman moved an amendment but it was defeated 4-8.
Cr Russell Poliwka, with the support of Crs Norman, John Chester, Christopher May, Nige Jones and Russ Fishwick, convened this week’s special meeting – which is believed to have cost about $5000 – for January 23 to reconsider the amendment to allow consultation.
About 50 people attended, with many pleading their case to have the consultation brought forward.
Residents said they were concerned that developers were still able to push through higher-density applications before any proposed reduction in density was approved.
They also asked if they could review the consultation material before it was sent to residents to ensure the information was “clear and without bias”.
“Unlike the previous communication, they should make it easy for any layperson to understand what is being advertised and why,” one resident said.
Residents also cited times the City had conducted community consultation over the recess period including the Local Housing Strategy in 2013-14 and Local Planning Scheme 3 (LPS3) in 2016-17.
Acting chief executive Dale Page said the policy allowed the chief executive to agree to advertise some planning proposals during recess “where there are statutory timeframes associated with them”.
Residents also expressed concerns of more hold-ups if LPS3 replaced the City’s district planning scheme before the process for the two amendments was finished.
Ms Page said there was “likely to be an issue” if this happened and the WA Planning Commission’s (WAPC) consideration of LPS3 was “imminent”.
“It is too late to intervene in the process of LPS3 to insert any amendments,” she said.
“If LPS3 is finalised before these amendments have progressed sufficiently, we will need to initiate a new amendment to LPS3 and that is the risk I have flagged.”
Cr Poliwka said the council needed to respond to the “very vocal and articulate wish” of the residents and “consult forthwith”.
“Any delay is to their detriment,” he said.
“They saying ‘time is of the essence’ has never been so relevant.”
He said the Environmental Protection Authority and WAPC had given permission to advertise.
“All we are doing is moving the consultation forward – there is no downside,” he said.
“We have been elected by the ratepayers to be the voice for what they require.”
Cr May supported the motion saying he “did not accept we are still in a holiday period”.
However, Cr John Logan disagreed.
“People are still going back to work and kids aren’t back at school yet,” he said.
“People don’t settle down until mid-February.
“We need to give as many people as possible the opportunity to have their say.
“It may also look poor to the WAPC if we break our own policy to save a couple of days.”
Mayor Albert Jacob said bringing the consultation forward would be “shortcutting” and “rushing” the process.
“If I have learnt one thing in more than 12 years of public life in different tiers of government is that process must be followed to the best of your capacity because otherwise you do come unstuck down the road,” he said.
“If we try and rush it, we would be doing you a disservice.”
He also said there was a feeling that some previous consultation on the issue was “shortcutted and maybe skipped a few of the steps”.
He said that was why it was important to get it right this time.
“There are members of our community who will have significant concerns about down-zoning their property and they have just as much a right to be consulted,” he said.
“If we progress this and we break our own policy, we put a chink in our armour.
“We will seek to do the best possible consultation of the community that we can.”
Ms Page said moving the consultation forward was unlikely to save much time.
“We have been working on the consultation material for a while now to eliminate the perception of bias and to give all the information,” she said.
“We still need to book advertising and the material needs to be peer reviewed to check the language and appropriateness.
“We have been working to a date of February 20 so if it is brought forward, I’m not sure when it will be ready.
“It would likely be next week or the week after.”
Because the vote was to change a previous decision of council, absolute majority was required to approve Cr Poliwka’s motion.
That meant it required seven votes.
Because the meeting was held during recess, four councillors were absent from the meeting.
Also, Cr Fishwick had a financial interest and was unable to take part, leaving eight elected members to vote.
The motion was lost 3-5.