Community Bypassed Under WA’s New Plan To ‘Fast-Track’ Projects
Under a new plan to push multimillion-dollar West Australian developments, the decision making will 'bypass community' input.
Modelled off WA's Covid response measures to fast-track projects, Opposition planning spokesman Neil Thomson is challenging the decision, which could see developments in key precincts skirt around community feedback.
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During the height of the pandemic, the McGowan government established the Planning and Development Amendment Act 2020, essentially delivering a cut to red tape to support job-creating projects.
Under the law a project worth more than $20m in the metropolitan area or $5m regionally could opt in to have the WA Planning Commission determine their proposal.
Implemented as a temporary measure for job-creating projects to support the State's economic recovery from the pandemic, Mr Thomson said he was not convinced the government had made enough of an argument to change the system.
“The huge risk [the special panel] imposes is that issue of perception by the community that their views are not properly taken into consideration,” Thomson said
“It overrides the intensive work that is undertaken at the strategic planning level to engage community and ensure they have a say in the general form and function of their communities."
“I understand the need for greater density in strategic locations, but I’m not convinced this is the appropriate pathway," he said.
Meanwhile, planning minister Rita Saffioti argues positive feedback on a centralised process run by the planning commission was behind the decision.
“There is support for that to continue as part of our planning reform program,” she said.
“There will be a Special Matters Development Assessment Panel, that will provide a more streamlined and strategic assessment of developments deemed to be of state or regional significance, those that could deliver economic benefits."
“We anticipate this new body to be operating before the end of the year,” Ms Saffioti said.
The new plan would see the number of development assessment panels reduced to three – covering metropolitan, outer metropolitan, and regional zones –with a special panel managing projects worth more than $50 million in the Perth-Peel region or $30 million elsewhere.
The proposed special panel would include a president, nominated by the planning commission, a local government official, an architect, a representative from the environmental protection authority, an urban and regional planner, and a Department of Transport representative.
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