THE City of Melville administration encouraged the developer of a controversial 21-dwelling Kishorn Road apartment block to resubmit its planning application to the City in an attempt to skirt the rejection of a Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP).
The revelation came to light at the December 13 council meeting during a deputation on behalf of the developer Yaran Property Group.
Planning Solutions senior planner Ross Underwood said that after the development was knocked back by JDAP in September the City of Melville’s Manager Planning Peter Prendergast suggested Yaran Property Group reapply directly to the City.
City officers believe the development application is fully compliant with the Canning Bridge Structure Plan and recommended Melville councillors approve the development; despite the fact the same application was rejected by JDAP and was the subject of a State Administrative Tribunal appeal.
Melville councillors voted to defer a decision until the JDAP application had run its course.
That did not stop Applecross resident Chris Young blasting the City over its behaviour.
He owns a home next door to the proposed development and has threatened to challenge council approval in the Supreme Court.
“I’m extremely upset and want the City to answer why it is so adamant about putting this monstrosity of a building at the far perimeter of an already overextended Canning Bridge Activity Centre,” he said.
“I’ve already had to spend close to $10,000 fighting the City on what is a totally unjustifiable action on its part.
“Driving down my street every house is either sold or for sale because people are so frightened of this development.
“The City of needs to explain to its ratepayers whether we have any relevance to them at all other than revenue.”
MDS Legal lawyer Fiona Stanton provided a deputation on Mr Young’s behalf, emphasising that pursuant to the regulations of the Planning and Development Act, any development application submitted to JDAP had to be determined by JDAP and could not subsequently be decided by the relevant local government.
“The existing JDAP rejection is a proper, lawful determination – it doesn’t go away because there is an appeal ongoing,” she said.
“An application that gives rise to risk of concurrent inconsistent findings is an abuse of process.”
“If the City were to approve this apartment block it would be unlawful for the developer to then market it as approved, and the developer could not build.
“If the application is approved by the City, my client would have no option but to go to the Supreme Court where it would likely be found the City made a decision without power and an order for costs would be sought against the City.”
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
September: A Joint Development Assessment Panel rules Yaran Property Group’s proposed development was not consistent with the Canning Bridge Structure Plan primarily because of its five-storey height. The applicant insists the development is only four-storeys, with the contested level in fact a mezzanine, and appeals the decision to the State Administrative Tribunal.
October 26: Residents surrounding the proposed development receive an informal notification letter stating the City of Melville had received an application for the development “comprising 21 multiple dwellings in a four-storey building” – it is the exact development application knocked back by JDAP.
December 13: Melville council votes to defer a decision on the contentious development application until the SAT appeal has run its course.
WHEN questioned last month about the validity of the City of Melville independently assessing a development application already rejected by JDAP, City of Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox stated:
“While this is not a common practice it is outside of the City’s control. The approach adopted by the applicant in this case is a legitimate one, and not, in the opinion of the City, prohibited by any legislation.
“However, the City will seek a review by the WA Planning Commission as there is currently an anomaly that a development application, with a value between $2 million to $10 million can be separately lodged to the City and to JDAP. We believe legislation should address this anomaly.
“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 CEO my preferred option would be for State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) to decide an appeal, but this is something I have no control over. The City must assess the new DA even if it happens to be similar.”
Asked this week whether the he was aware the developer had only submitted a new planning application on the advise of the City’s planning department, Dr Silcox said the City had an obligation “to advise any party of their rights and what review processes are available to them.”