VINCENT mayor Emma Cole says state-controlled development assessment panels have failed locals again by approving a five-storey, 38-unit block on Wright Street.
The city spent months working on its Local Planning Policy after locals indicated they wanted to limit new building heights in the Highgate precinct to three storeys.
But at the DAP meeting on June 3, the specialist members appointed by the state government—Megan Adair, John Syme and Clayton Higham—outvoted councillors Matt Buckels and Josh Topelberg to approve the development.
“We are very disappointed,” Ms Cole says.
Previously Vincent council had been roundly unhappy with the DAP for allowing an extra couple of storeys on every development that came through, using discretion set into the Town Planning Scheme.
Under the help of new planning director John Corbelini, the city had consulted locals, tightened up the rules and put the three-storey limit in the Local Planning Policy.
Ms Cole says planning should involve some discretion, but feels Vincent’s policies haven’t been given “due regard” by the DAP.
The DAP committee deemed the applicant—Scanlan Architects—had “satisfactorily address[ed] the previous reasons for refusal” when the project was knocked back in December 2016 as a 40-unit development.
The eastern block is also 54cm lower than the previous design, coming in at 17.15m tall.
The DAP members discounted the three-storey limit and instead went by the R-coding, which would technically allow a bigger height.
Ms Cole, who moved a joint motion with then-mayor John Carey to call for DAPs to be abolished in 2016, says the decision hardened her stance against them
She says back then they were told DAPs weren’t the problem and Vincent just had to strengthen up its policies, which DAP is to give “due regard” to.
Planning decisions can only be appealed by the authority which makes the decision, in this case the DAP, or the applicant.
Third party appeals were abolished years ago, but there’s talk among some councils, including Fremantle, about bringing them back after the WA Local Government Association called for submissions late last year.
“This is a really good example of where, if we had a third party appeal right, the City of Vincent would be looking at exercising that right,” Ms Cole says. The city will discuss the issue at the next council meeting.
by DAVID BELL