THE WA Local Government Association (WALGA) has backed reviewing unelected Development Assessment Panels (DAPs) that bypass councils’ planning processes.
“The upcoming State Election presents a valuable opportunity to change the flawed DAP system,” WALGA president Lynne Craigie said after its state council meeting on September 9.
At an August WALGA annual general meeting, it was agreed WALGA investigate a review of DAPs, which can consider projects greater than $2 million if a developer decides to opt into the State Government-imposed system introduced in 2009.
DAPs have caused widespread community and councillor angst about unwanted high-rise developments, including a 29-storey proposal in South Perth, 18 storeys at the Subiaco Markets, apartments among single homes in Attadale, seven-storeys in Bayswater, a larger Mosman Park shopping centre and Byford subdivisions.
Ms Cragie said WALGA’s campaign for a review wanted an independent cost-benefit analysis of DAPs, opt-ins abolished and introduction of the eastern states’ option of planning ministers deciding projects of state or regional significance values at over $20 million.
She said the Government must consult with councils to ensure the review and any change to DAPs could be achieved and worthwhile.
The growing split over infill to combat Perth’s 117km-long sprawl prompted the launch of the WA Apartment Advocacy (WAAA), which claims to represent apartment dwellers .
WAAA managing director Samantha Reece, who has worked for the Property Council of WA, said developers, architects and planners’ views needed to be part of any DAP review, and the five-member panels including two resident-elected councillors had allowed projects that previously had been “held up by councils”.
Ms Reece said if DAPs were undemocratic then there would be no elected members, and she agreed apartments should be near train stations and already partially redeveloped areas, not suburban streets.
“People have got stop saying ‘no’ to apartments, and have got to start saying what they want to do, what sort of features, innovations and street fronts they want, and get beyond the ‘no change’ policy,” she said.