WA Planning Minister Donna Faragher last week announced a number of changes to the Development Assessment Panel (DAP) system, following feedback from key stakeholders, including local governments, as well as suggestions made through the 2015 State Parliamentary inquiry.
"These changes are primarily administrative and will ensure the system remains flexible and responsive, while more clearly communicating DAP decisions to the public," Ms Faragher said.
"For instance, DAP agendas will be published at least seven days before a meeting, instead of the current five days, to provide more advance notice to the public.
"Local governments will also be required to contact each person who has provided a written submission to a development proposal in their area, to let them know when the relevant DAP meeting will take place.
"More information will be available around reasons for decisions, to ensure that the decision-making process is clearly communicated and can be better understood."
The Minister said DAPs had delivered an additional level of technical expertise to the State's planning system since their introduction in 2011.
"Like local councils, DAPs must make decisions based on a local government's planning scheme and policies," she said.
"They provide a level of certainty and confidence that decisions will be made on the basis of proper and orderly planning.
"The system has been comprehensively reviewed twice in the last five years and today's changes will ensure DAPs continue to provide the best planning outcomes possible for Western Australia."
Development Assessment Panel system amendments:
- Provide an option to opt-out of a DAP in favour of a local government for developments, such as industrial warehouses, that will not significantly impact local amenity.
- DAP agendas will be published at least seven days before a meeting - instead of the current five days - to provide greater advance notice to the public.
- Local governments will be required to proactively contact each person who has provided a written submission in relation to a DAP application, to inform them of when the meeting will take place.
- Responsible authority reports to include more information about why decisions can be made, to ensure that the decision-making process is clearly communicated and can be better understood.
- DAP members and local governments to be provided with more governance support, where required.
- DAP presiding members will be able to intervene in the 'stop-the-clock' process if parties disagree about the level of information that has been provided for an application.
- Provide proponents with the option to choose between a local government or a DAP when requesting an amendment to a minor aspect of an existing development approval (Form 2).
- Empower the Minister for Planning to remove DAP members who do not undertake the appropriate DAP training.
- The maximum term of office for DAP members can be extended if a vacancy is waiting to be filled.
- Add a reference to the DAP regulations that all Form 2 minor amendment meetings should be open to the public.
- Changes to the DAP fee structure.