WA State Election: Royal Commission

Western Australia’s planning system is in the worst possible state it could be. The system has failed to provide Western Australia with infrastructure, services and the housing it needs during one of the biggest mining and constructions booms in Western Australia’s history.

Only a Royal Commission into its failure can stop Western Australia repeating the cycle of development led planning of the 1970s and again in the 2000s.  Click here, ref: Dr Linley Lutton, UWA Extension Autumn 2016:

The Planning system uses experts, usually linked to developers, to approve any development using the powers of the Development Assessment Panels (DAP), WA Planning Commission (WAPC), Metropolitan Regional Authority (MRA), Royalties for Regions (R4R), and the developer’s “approval of last resort”, the Minister or the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

Take for instance the Development Assessment Panels (DAP).  The DAP approved four office blocks in Subiaco within walking distance of train stations and bus services with no residential dwellings.  The DAP completely ignored residential infill targets and planning policies. One of these office blocks was approved in secret by the DAP, without the proper zoning for the area. The Minister used his powers to rezone the area to match the DAP approved development for an office block.

The DAP legislation was introduced by the Barnett Government on 1 July 2011 with the express purpose of removing Councils and communities from the Planning decision process.

DAPs consist of 5 members, 3 appointed by the Minister and 2 nominated by the Local Authority. As a result DAPs decisions throughout the metropolitan area have, almost without exception, favoured the developer over the wishes of the community.

There is no requirement for the DAP to be guided by submissions from the Councils or their communities. The Council, in which the proposed development is located, is required at no cost to provide the DAPs with a Responsible Authority Report (RAR) on the development proposal. The DAPs can ignore the RAR or use it if it suits its purpose. The DAPs is not required to be guided by the RAR, nor is the DAPs required to report on its deliberation process and nor are there any Third Party appeal rights.

Once a DAP has announced its decision it can only be challenged in the Supreme Court which can involve significant costs. Significantly, not even the Minister for Planning can intervene on a DAP decision even if it breaks the rules of the Council’s local planning scheme and its policies. But the Minister will interfere with Council decisions like the Pavilion Markets site and approve a scheme amendment for 16 storeys.  The DAP had no choice but to approved the 16 storeys with conditions, only to find the applicant in the State Administrative Tribunal getting them removed.

The end result is a large number of developments, such as high-rise apartments and office blocks, are being forced on Councils and communities even though they do not reflect the wishes of those Councils and communities and, in some cases, the Government’s own Planning policies. These developments will dramatically alter the nature and character of these communities and they are powerless to stop them. Resolving the traffic chaos which can result from approved high residential density developments are typically left to the Council to resolve at its own cost funded by ratepayers.

The DAP have not allowed local governments to focus their resources. There is a constant flow of development applications which break the rules in the knowledge that most of development will get approved either by the DAP or at a secret meeting of the SAT, the DAP and the developer.

More than 40 communities across metropolitan Perth have been affected by DAP, WAPC, or the SAT.  They are growing in numbers and campaigning to #ScraptheDAP.

WA’s planning system is flawed and is failing Western Australia in its time of need. Western Australia deserves much better outcomes from its construction boom.  Instead we are saddled with a hotchpotch of outrageous buildings which have cost residents and ratepayers their amenity.

A Royal Commission is urgently required into the planning system to prevent a repeat of the 1970s and now the 2000s of seriously flawed planning at any cost, in any town and city in Western Australia.

To support Julie’s campaign for a Royal Commission, please click here:

If your community has been affected by an adverse development proposal, please click here:

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