Cr fears losing touch with planning rules

A MOVE for Melville councillors to become more involved in development applications was narrowly blocked on Tuesday night.

Cr Nicholas Pazolli proposed that when the State Administrative Tribunal ordered the council to reconsider a rejected planning application, the decision-making should then lie with councillors rather than staff.

“I think it’s important we take this opportunity to insert councillors into the development application process,” Cr Pazolli said.

“Otherwise we lose knowledge of the local planning scheme which we are responsible for.”

He pointed out that only three development applications had come before the council this year, compared to 26 in 2014 and 43 in 2015.

A property council report recently found Melville delegated 95 per cent of its planning decisions, which was in line with the Perth average. Wanneroo, Cockburn, Joondalup and Armadale councils delegate 99 per cent of their applications.

Cr Lisa O’Malley spoke in favour of Cr Pazolli’s plan, which he’d put as an amendment to a standard motion calling for a review of the council’s delegated authority.

“It would acknowledge the importance of the issue as well as enable the applicant to be present, rather than have the matter heard and decided upon behind the closed doors of the planning department,” Cr O’ Malley said.

Cr Rebecca Aubrey spoke against the amendment, saying it wasn’t in line with the officer’s recommendation and could lead to less consistent decision-making. “I just feel like the process would be flawed,” Cr Aubrey said.

Crs Guy Wieland and Mathew Woodall sided with the amendment, but it was lost 6-4.

by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM

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