THE City of Wanneroo says it will not change its planning processes despite a negative report by the Property Council of Australia and calls for an external audit by Wanneroo MLA Paul Miles.
The Council released the Benchmarking Greater Perth Local Governments report this month, which ranked the City third last for its planning performance among the 29 participating councils.
It scored five out of a possible 23 overall, coming entirely from its top ranking for delegating 99.67 per cent of planning decision making from councillors to skilled officers.
Mr Miles said he had been campaigning for eight years for the City to improve its planning processes and wanted it to urgently conduct a “full and external audit” into planning systems.
“Their systems are highly outdated and do not reflect State Planning Policy, which has resulted in massive delays to standard, everyday planning applications, many of which seem to be highly unnecessary delays that have been allowed to occur due to the massive failures within the City’s planning processes,” he said.
City acting planning and sustainability director Mark Dickson said no changes were necessary.
“Our processes and procedures are sound, in line with the community’s expectations that we deliver and maintain a high level of service,” he said.
The report found the City’s local planning scheme was 15 years old, placing it in the middle of rankings, and had the 11th highest number of amendments at 99.
No data was provided for length of time taken to process planning applications, which Mr Dickson said was because it was not available in the council’s requested format.
He said the City processed the second highest number of development applications in the metropolitan area.
“The applications were processed at an average of 15.28 days, which is approximately one quarter of the required statutory timeframe of 60 days,” he said.
The City has also started preparing a local planning strategy and a review of its District Planning Scheme 2.
Mr Dickson said most of the report’s recommendations were aimed at the WA Planning Commission and Department of Planning though contained “scant information” on their performance.
“Further, the recommendations relate mainly to strategies and scheme reviews, which the City actively works on or has already initiated and these require public consultation to be undertaken,” he said.
“More generally the City notes that the scorecard is a snapshot in time; had the survey been done at a different time, the results would have been different for each local government.”
He also challenged the ranking of planning schemes by age, citing rapid growth for reasons for the many amendments and said the scheme’s map and text were last updated on its website in July.