Minister creates uncertainty

The Minister for Planning Rita Saffioti is using the COVID-19 State of Emergency to change planning rules to avoid community consultation on development applications.

The community will not be consulted if an approved development application requires a two-year extension to commence development.  The Minister is offering an automatic blanket two-year extension without community consultation. Ref Business News, 9 April 2020

2020 Two year extensions approved by minister

Local governments are encouraged by the Minister for Planning to fast track and approve “non-controversial developments” to avoid public scrutiny but provides no definition on what those developments are.  Ref Minister’s letter to WALGA President, 25 March 2020

These changes to planning rules may appear innocuous but the Minister has form in ignoring community consultation and approving local planning schemes and a high-rise development ignoring the controversial impacts on communities. Ref Subiaco and Nedlands‘ Local Planning Scheme changed by Minister for Planning, April and December 2019.  Civic Heart 39 storeys approved by Minster for Planning, 7 February 2020

2020 Civic Heart approved by minister

The Minister for Planning can’t be trusted to act in the interests of the community.  These changes to planning rules should be vigorously challenged by the community and elected members of local government.

The role of Mayors, Presidents and Councillors is to represent the electors of their districts (s. 2.10 of the Act), not the Minister for Planning or the WA Planning Commission.  Elected members have a duty of care to their electors, especially the most vulnerable during this COVID-19 State of Emergency.

Please write to your elected members of local government and remind them of their obligations during this time of uncertainty.

All development applications should be in the public domain and listed on the local government website and in print in a local community newspaper so that the community can be consulted and decide if a development application is controversial.