Claims Development Assessment Panels play an essential part in planning processes and Council criticisms are a smokescreen for their own planning scheme mismanagement are erroneous and misleading.

WA Local Government Association President Cr Lynne Craigie said the statements made by the Property Council’s Executive Director were not supported by any evidence and mistakenly implied Local Governments are lacking in their own planning and decision making processes.

“If there were widespread instances of mismanagement as claimed, the Minister for Planning would often have been required to intervene in local planning schemes,” Cr Craigie said.  

“Instead, in the five years the Minister has had this power, he has only exercised it on 13 occasions, with 12 of those being minor rezoning proposals.”

“By comparison, 82 applications determined by DAPs over the first four years of their operation were still challenged at the State Administrative Tribunal level.”

Cr Craigie said evidence such as this called into question whether the system was delivering on any of its intended benefits of efficiency or streamlined decision making.

She said it was disappointing that the recent Parliamentary enquiry into the system did not investigate whether it was appropriate in the current planning context, with the majority of recommendations responding to operational matters and not addressing a key objective of assessing the system’s effectiveness.

“The Review does not provide any analysis of the operational cost of running DAPs, or examine the effectiveness of DAPs in meeting the prescribed deadlines of 60 and 90 days,” Cr Craigie said.
“This is despite WALGA providing a comprehensive data analysis of the system in its four years of operation including data that shows average approval timeframes of 104 days – well outside the prescribed deadlines.”

Cr Craigie said the Association would continue to advocate for the removal of the flawed DAPs system with calls for further action from Councils.

“We have evidence that DAPs as they currently stand are not providing greater transparency, consistency or efficiency in decision making and are instead merely eroding the planning powers of Councils and the communities they represent.”

“It is concerning that the role of Local Government with our focus on community representation is considered an obstacle in the development process, and is a situation that is becoming untenable for our members.

“We have sought to meet with the newly appointed Planning Minister to revisit the conversation with State Government on why it is that this system was established and clearly outline the true cost to the community, Local Government and industry of this additional administrative layer to the planning approvals process.”