Five-storey church approved as Stirling denies conflict of interest

Artist impression of the approved church on Mumford Place.
Artist impression of the approved church on Mumford Place.

A MULTI-STOREY church in Balcatta has been approved after three years of knockbacks, with a Stirling councillor representing the developers.

The City of Stirling refused Living Faith Church’s original plan for a three-storey development comprising an 1130-seat auditorium on Mumford Place in August 2017 and again the following February, after the applicant appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal.

After a full hearing, the tribunal agreed with the City’s concern about a lack of parking, with 87 on-site bays proposed, and affirmed its decision.

Last October, the owner submitted a revised plan via Urbanista Town Planning for a five-storey building, including two levels of parking with 135 bays and a 594-seat auditorium.

A City report supported the amended proposal and it was approved by the Metro North-West Development Assessment Panel on October 23.

Urbanista director and Stirling deputy mayor Bianca Sandri, who usually represents council on the panel, presented in support of the application at the meeting but the City denied this was a conflict of interest.

The vacant site where the church will be built. Photo: Laura Pond

Governance manager Jamie Blanchard said occasionally councillors’ professional work would intersect with their civic role and they were required to disclose any interests in items before committee, council and development assessment panels.

When the previous application came to council in February 2018, Cr Sandri declared a financial interest because her business provided advice to the applicant and left the room while it was being debated.

Mr Blanchard said Cr Sandri played no role in preparation of the City’s report and was not part of the panel considering the proposal.

“There is no conflict of interest as Cr Sandri has not performed any role as councillor or DAP member in relation to this development application,” he said.

“Conflicts of interest will arise from time to time.

“All City councillors must actively identify and manage conflicts of interest that arise between their professional roles and their work on council.”

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