Developer register discussions with councils

CAMBRIDGE and Peppermint Grove councils will consider public records of councillors⿿ contacts with property developers, after the City of Vincent adopted the policy last week.

“We are going to have a look at it,” Cambridge Mayor Simon Wither said.

The developer contact register promoted by Vincent Mayor John Carey requires a written record and publishing on his council’s website each time a developer makes contact with his city’s councillors.

But Mr Withers said Cambridge councillors had “few” meetings with developers and most of his Town’s development applications went to a Development Assessment Panel, of which three of five members were State Government appointees.

A register would have to precisely define what constituted contact.

“If developers want to talk about developments, it should really be in a formal setting,” Mr Withers said.

Peppermint Grove President Rachel Thomas has asked that discussion of a register be on the agenda for a concept forum before the council’s meeting this month, despite the small shire having limited commercial development.

“In the interests of transparency, however, perhaps a register is appropriate,” chief executive John Merrick said.

Claremont Mayor Jock Barker said there was “no need” for a register because of his policy for councillors and himself not to have direct contact with developers.

“I never accept the ‘cup of coffee invitation’, as private meetings by councillors with developers are fraught with danger, hence in Claremont we just don’t do it,” Mr Barker said.

When developers did make contact, he sent them to his staff to arrange a formal, recorded meeting.

“And not withstanding all of that, I rarely grant developers approval to brief the council without the same opportunity being afforded to parties which may be effected by a developer’s proposal,” Mr Barker said.

Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins said a register was unnecessary because almost all development applications there were residential, and proposals such as new Woolworths and Aldi supermarkets were exceptional.