One of the most positive shifts towards improving architectural outcomes has been the increased reliance on Design Review in the Development Assessment process.
DAPs were introduced to improve and de-politicise decision making, and ultimately to reduce the number of appeals to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT). Justice isn’t cheap, and the SAT is an expensive institution to run. It has low application fees and is a no cost jurisdiction. A significant financial burden is left on the State to fund its operation, particularly when matters presented for review do not have a robust consideration of the prevailing planning framework but rather the popular outcome sought by a reactive local community.
However, it is not just DAPs that have eroded the power of local government. In 2015, the State Government introduced the ‘deemed provisions’ — or correctly, Schedule 2 of the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015. The deemed provisions override the Local Planning Scheme of all 139 local governments in Western Australia and enforce consistent measures in dealing with various planning matters. As a result, the State Government has the final say on all local planning strategies, local planning schemes, planning scheme amendments (such as rezoning), structure plans and activity centre plans. The only ‘planning tool’ that local government has absolute control over our ‘Local Development Plans’ (LDPs). However, LDPs can only be prepared where the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) has authorised them, so their use and application by local government is limited.