City of Rockingham to join call to abolish DAPs

City of Rockingham to join call to abolish DAPs

CITY of Rockingham looks set to back the abolition of the controversial Development Assessment Panel system when it votes at council next Tuesday evening.

It comes after the South-West Joint Development Assessment Panel (DAP) pulled the rug from underneath the City to approve the development of the Rockingham Montessori School in December of last year.

The City’s decision was originally upheld by the DAP in March 2015, before being overturned after the school appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

DAPs consist of two local councillors and three State appointed personnel charged with approving or denying developments worth more than $2 million.

Under the current system, local councils can be bypassed in the decision-making process.

Speaking at Monday’s committee meeting, where the motion was supported 5-0, Councillor Kelly McManus said the system had too much “raw discretionary power”.

“The principle of the DAPs and SAT fails because the discretionary powers are so great there is little nexus between the decision and the relevant town planning scheme,” she said.

“We have here at the City of Rockingham a planning team committed to development who are progressive and reasonable.

“We must find a way for the aspirations and values of the community to be incorporated into the decision making framework.

“Locally elected councillors have a far better understanding of the impacts of developments on the community than appointed persons.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Crs Chris Elliott, Deb Hamblin and Matthew Whitfield with each speaking against the DAP system.

Acting Mayor Hamblin said the City’s planners did an excellent job, while Cr Elliott believed the City had earned the right to make its own decisions with its planning record.

The City has opposed the DAP process since 2009, when a discussion paper on the implementation of the controversial system was released.

The City of South Perth tabled a motion during the WA Local Government AGM earlier this month, calling for an independent review of DAPS and the State Administrative Tribunal.

The motion was supported, although complete abolition of the process was not.

The Department of Planning has been approached for comment.