City of Stirling ratepayers say review of planning decisions does not address concerns


Simon Wheeler and Alison Gibbons have formed an action group with fellow residents who are unhappy with developments in Trigg, Karrinyup and Carine. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Simon Wheeler and Alison Gibbons have formed an action group with fellow residents who are unhappy with developments in Trigg, Karrinyup and Carine. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

RATEPAYERS who called for a review of the City of Stirling’s planning decisions say it does not address their concerns.

Karrinyup resident Alison Gibbons and Simon Wheeler, of Scarborough, both have gripes about neighbouring developments and spearheaded pleas for an independent planning review.

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Stirling council paid Civic Legal $145,000 to review five Responsible Authority Reports (RAR), regarding developments on Ozone Parade in Trigg, Prisk Street in Karrinyup, Silica Road in Carine, Karrinyup Road in Gwelup and Beaufort Street in Mt Lawley.

Ms Gibbons said she was disappointed to find that the review focused on planning processes rather than “anomalies” in the reports.

“We wanted it to look into if everything was right on these RARs,” she said.

“This has wasted $145,000 of ratepayers’ money and it hasn’t done what we asked.”

The review found the City “largely complied” with relevant planning laws and policies, and the concerns raised by residents about the former three developments was because of a lack of communication and the planning team’s belief it was not their responsibility to educate the public.

It recommended the City improve communication, develop a policy to deal with State Administrative Tribunal applications and information relayed to ratepayers, alter its record keeping procedure and make plans available on its website.

The review made an adverse finding in regards to building work alleged to have started without a permit in Trigg, concluding a permit was likely required.

A comment from the City said the finding was contrary to confidential legal advice it obtained prior to and following the review, and from a private building surveyor.

Mr Wheeler was unhappy it did not look for inaccuracies in the City’s RARs.

“This review was never going to satisfy the concerns of the petitioners or more importantly highlight the issues that still require fixing,” he said.

“This is not the review we were looking for, however while expecting to be ignored, we did not expect to be insulted.

“Ironically the recommendations accepted by council will do little more than slow down the development approval process for compliant developers and builders already frustrated with a glacial approval process whilst the City ‘educate’ the great unwashed rather than understand their legitimate concerns.”

Councillors at the December meeting voted to implement the recommendation, including using “plain English” when communicating with ratepayers, and also seek changes to the Building Act to provide clarity on the definition of “building work”.

Mayor Mark Irwin said council initiated the review and set its terms of reference, and the review met the requirements of council’s brief.

He defended the City’s decision to seek further legal opinion and said the expenditure was justified as legal clarification was required.

“The finding was contrary to confidential legal advice obtained by the City prior to commencement of the independent planning review and also following completion of the review,” he said.

“The City also sought and obtained an independent peer review from a qualified private building surveyor practitioner.

“This concluded the works being undertaken did not constitute building work requiring a building permit under the Building Act (WA) 2011.”

Cr Irwin said the review confirmed the City’s planning processes were robust and assessment processes accurate.

“Where the review has made recommendations the City will implement these actions,” he said.

“Council has also requested an additional report on further improvements to consultation and customer service.”