Girrawheen resident welcomes City of Wanneroo’s push for third party appeal rights against developments

Girrawheen resident Sonia Garcia pictured on the site planned to have multi-level housing going up. Picture: Marie Nirme d474112
Girrawheen resident Sonia Garcia pictured on the site planned to have multi-level housing going up. Picture: Marie Nirme d474112

A GIRRAWHEEN resident has welcomed a push for third party appeal rights in relation to development assessment panels, saying it could have helped locals fight against plans for a three-storey development.

City of Wanneroo council has called for introduction of third party appeal rights in WA in regard to development assessment panel (DAP) decisions, but not council decisions.

The council agreed to make a submission to the WA Local Government Association (WALGA) advising it did not support a comprehensive introduction of the appeal rights but there was merit for introducing them where determinations have been issued by the panels.

The unanimous decision also noted that public confidence in the DAP decision-making process could be “enhanced” by introducing in those limited circumstances.

Girrawheen resident Sonia Garcia said the $4.9 million Strive Loop proposal was originally rejected by the Metropolitan North West Development Assessment Panel in March.

However, the applicant appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT), and revised plans were brought back to the panel in August, where three of five panel members voted to approve the development. .

“I went out and got over 100 signatures saying that we don’t want it,” Miss Garcia said.

“It did not matter what we thought; it was a waste of time for residents to fight it.

“We can’t have a say on what is going to be built in our area.”

Four people gave deputations in support of third party appeal rights before the August 22 council meeting, including City of Subiaco councillor Julie Matheson who said several western suburbs councils had “led the charge on third party appeal rights”.

“We are the only state that does not have third party appeal rights,” she said.

“If a third party is aggrieved, they cannot appeal a decision on their own merits; they have to go through the Supreme Court.

“We believe that the SAT is the best place for the third party appeals to go.”

Cr Domenic Zappa, who is up for re-election next month, moved an amendment to the recommendation not to allow third party appeal rights except for DAP decisions.

“We know our communities far better than a panel of experts that sit on a development assessment panel,” he said.

Cr Samantha Fenn said residents should have a right to appeal.

Cr Dot Newton, who is also seeking re-election in the October elections, said she lived with DAP decisions, including two service stations near her Wanneroo home.

Incoming director general says JDAPS have important place in WA planning

DEVELOPMENT assessment panels make decisions in the same way as local governments, the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage director general Gail McGowan says.

Ms McGowan said panels made decisions in line with the relevant local planning scheme and all applicable planning policies.

She said in the 2016-17 financial year, 24 out of 29 of new Metro North-West JDAP applications were determined in accordance with a recommendation prepared by the relevant local government, WA Planning Commission (WAPC) or Department of Finance.

“Any development approved by the Metro North-West DAP is able to be approved according to the cities of Wanneroo, Stirling and Joondalup’s own local planning schemes and/or planning policies,” she said.

The incoming director general said DAPs had an important place in the WA planning system.

“The Planning Minister Rita Saffioti has widely indicated that certain aspects will be reviewed including transparency and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is currently working through this,” she said.

“Third parties can make representations to both local governments or DAPs on local planning issues, which are considered before a final determination is made.

“Third parties can also apply to the Supreme Court for a judicial review on applications.”

The staff report said WALGA’s position in 2008 had been that there was no justification for third party appeal legislation, based on the impact appeals would have on local governments.

“Third Party Appeals could be lodged because of vexatious or commercial interests, not because of genuine planning matters,” it said.

“Such appeals would cause significant delays and additional costs for development.

“Additional planning appeals would place a further burden on already stretched local government resources.”

While the August report recommended the same reasons, it acknowledged there had been some changes to the planning framework since 2008 that affected the decision-making powers of local government.

Those included changes to the structure planning process and introduction of development assessment panels.

“Administration acknowledges that there are reasons for and against the introduction of Third Party Appeal rights,” the report said.

“However, on balance, administration does not support the introduction of Third Party Appeal rights in WA.

“Although the development assessment panel process does take some decision-making away from local government, it does not take away the ability for community consultation to be undertaken.

“It would be inappropriate for local government to be a third party appellant of a planning decision – even a decision made by a development assessment panel or the WAPC.”

According to the report, the City currently receives about 10 appeals a year, and the introduction of Third Party Appeal rights would probably increase that number.

“The cost to respond to each SAT appeal varies considerably,” it said, adding that could be kept to operational costs if administration responded to the appeal without outside help.

“When the City does engage external consultants to assist in responding to a SAT appeal, monetary costs on the City typically vary from $10,000 to in excess of $200,000.”

An independent parliamentary inquiry chaired by South Metropolitan MLC Kate Doust in 2015 found that the DAP system was generally working well and proposed minor administration changes.