Push for third party appeals

VINCENT has joined a growing number of councils calling for third party appeals of planning decisions.

In WA only the applicant can appeal, but in other states a neighbour can appeal the approval of a development next door, and in Tasmania a third party can appeal if they’re “injuriously affected”, with other states having similar guidelines.

Vincent council wants the ability to appeal decisions made by the state government’s Development Assessment Panel after it approved several big, contentious developments in the city’s backyard.

Mayor Emma Cole says letting neighbours and local governments appeal would be “putting the DAP on notice that their decisions will be scrutinised”.

• Artist’s impression of the controversial five-storey development in Wright Street, Highgate, which was recently approved by the State Administrative Tribunal.

Ms Cole cited DAP’s approval of a five-storey, 38-unit development in Highgate, despite Vincent’s Local Planning Policy—developed in consultation with locals—capping the area at three storeys.

The DAP is supposed to give “due regard” to the LPP, but Ms Cole says in this case it wasn’t.

“I think the Wright Street development is a very good case study where the City of Vincent would not have hesitated to appeal that decision.

“We were saying three storeys is the correct height here, and the DAP argued that it was actually a transitional area, which was not the intention…clearly established in our brand new Built Form Policy.”

Opponents of third party appeals say they’ll result in an even-more clogged-up planning system.

In a report on third party appeals by judge Christine Trenorden, at a town planning conference in 2009, she wrote “they will result in some projects being delayed and in some cases, cancelled, with the developer returning to the drawing board.

“There will be costs. However, the result is likely to be beneficial in the long term, leading to consequences such as better planning outcomes, based on a full and proper assessment taking into account local knowledge, and transparency of decision-making with consequent community confidence in the process and resulting in better, higher quality development.”

The council will write to the WA Local Government Association, new planning minister Rita Saffioti, and attorney general John Quigley to advise them they want third party appeal rights.

by DAVID BELL

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