COUNCILLOR Nicholas Pazolli believes City of Melville staff have been handed too much decision-making power and wants to see more development applications decided by council rather than under delegated authority.
Cr Pazolli’s comments come after the City sent a letter to Applecross homeowners stating it was processing an application for a contentious Kishorn Road apartment block that had already been knocked back by a development assessment panel (DAP).
Only three development applications have been decided by councillors so far this year, a steep decline from the 43 that appeared on Melville council agendas in 2015.
“I am on record during debates and discussions on the review of the Planning Process and Decision Making Policy (CP-056) warning that I believe too much of the authority of council has been delegated to City officers when dealing with quite complex development applications,” Cr Pazolli said.
“In addition, I believe that the call-up provisions specified in the policy are too constrained, resulting in councillors being unable to call up before full council any development application that City planning officers assess to be compliant to the planning codes, structure plans and policies, even when neighbouring residents expressed objections.
“This is the situation that has arisen in the case of 21 Kishorn Road.”
Cr Pazolli intends to move a motion that will make it easier for councillors to request contentious development applications be assessed by council rather than City officers.
“It is essential that such development applications are able to be called up to full council so that all affected stakeholders can have their objections heard in an open and transparent manner in a public forum,” he said.
Alfred Cove MLA Dean Nalder, who lives near Kishorn Road, said a number of residents had contacted him to raise concerns about the Canning Bridge Precinct Plan.
“There appears to be anomalies that require consideration and explanation,” he said.
“Why can the application for Kishorn Road be accepted by the City for consideration and approval after the application, or a very similar one, was knocked back by a DAP in September?”
City bound by law to consider application
Chief executive Shayne Silcox said the City of Melville was required by law to assess the second Kishorn Road development application.
“It is correct that the City cannot review and/or override a development application lodged with a JDAP for decision,” Dr Silcox said.
“In this case however, a new application has been lodged with the City for its decision, though it happens to be similar to the development application assessed by the JDAP.
“The City is therefore obliged by law to assess this new application as confirmed by solicitors.
“This is clearly not a desirable outcome, but the technicality is a legal option that is available to the applicant as the Department of Planning has not corrected the anomaly.
“As chief executive my preferred option would be for the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) to decide an appeal but this is something I have no control over.
“The City must assess the new development application even if it happens to be similar.”