Melville bucks trend to oust unpopular DAPs

Seven local governments have already voted to pressure the State Government into returning development approval powers to elected councillors.

At last week’s council meeting, councillor Nicholas Pazolli proposed a motion calling for Melville to join the likes of South Perth, Vincent, Cottesloe and Nedlands in calling for DAPs to be shelved.

Despite strong community support from the gallery, the motion was defeated 5-7.

Instead, an alternate motion prepared by deputy Mayor Cameron Schuster and proposing the retention of the DAP system with a number of modifications was carried unanimously.

Cr Schuster’s motion called for equal membership on DAPs between elected and specialist members (currently weighted 3-2 in favour of specialists) and increasing the minimum project value for DAP referral from $2 million to $4 million.

It also called for DAP agendas to be made available online at least 10 days before the relevant meeting and allowing at least four working days for interested parties to apply to present their case in front of the panel.

As an additional requirement, any changes to a development application between the community information period and final proposal for decision by a DAP would be published on the local government website, with earlier respondents notified of the alterations.

Since the system was introduced in 2011 most DAP decisions within the City of Melville have been uncontested but a handful of recent cases have angered local residents.

For example, in March 2014 a DAP approved an 84-dwelling high-density apartment block in Alfred Cove, despite the R40-coded site being in a low-density R20-zoned suburb.