Fair ways off
IN the name of fair and balance reporting, the City is disappointed the Herald did not seek the city’s response to comments in the article “Rezoning: Who’s next? “(Herald, October 16.
The City does not accept your reporter’s explanation for choosing not to seek the City’s response: “because the city is a city and not an individual, I didn’t consider a right of reply necessary”.
Some of the comments included in the article directly refer to the City of Cockburn, which should automatically afford the City a right of reply, and to help increase the community’s understanding of the planning process that affects the privately-owned land which was once the Glen Iris golf course.
The City will not be the approval authority of a proposal to either rezone the land, or for any planned residential estate. The Western Australian Planning Commission and ultimately the Minister for Planning are the determining authority for any rezoning applications.
Processing any proposals, considering submissions received, and final recommendation will be reviewed by State Government, and in the case of the Scheme Amendment, the Minister
for Planning, prior to final determination.
1) Leanne Chaproniere paraphrased: …it was unfair that Cockburn council’s planners continued to meet with developer Eastcourt Property Group to help finesse it’s (sic) plans, but there was no assistance for a community clearly opposed.
It is standard practice for officers at most local government authorities to provide pre-application advice to proponents (in this case, Eastcourt property Group and their consultants) as part of their statutory obligation to process land use planning and development applications.
It is a process highly encouraged by the Western Australian Planning Commission as an important means of improving the quality of proposals received, so that they are more easily understood when advertised to
the public, minimising the risk of unnecessary delays associated with the need to seek further technical information.
Any advice provided is on a without prejudice basis, and in no way ties a local government authority to favourably recommend or determine such applications.
The Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 clearly set out the manner in which consultation with the community is to occur with respect to both Scheme Amendments (Part 5, Division 3) and Local Structure Plans (Schedule 2, Part 4).
In response to the significant number of enquiries the City has received in response to Eastcourt’s Glen Iris intentions, the City has created and periodically updates a page on its website (search Glen Iris) for public information.
This page clearly sets out the process, the manner in which the community will be consulted, advice on the key matters to consider in each planning process, and responses to a wide range of frequently asked questions regarding the process and background history of the site.
2) Ms Chaproniere: “The whole issue of the special electors meeting which happened earlier this year, was because the groups of people are not happy that there is not this openness with the council officers, it is always ‘no, no, no, no, no’.”
City Officers (including the CEO and senior executive) have met with community representatives, including members of the Jandakot Residents & Ratepayers Association, on multiple occasions. These meetings have allowed the City to hear residents’ concerns, further explain the City’s non-determinative statutory role in the relevant planning processes, in addition to how and when it is best for the community to convey those comments, to have maximum effect on the final outcome.
3) Ms Chaproniere paraphrased: She wants a process where stakeholders can have a proper dialogue with the council, not just three-minute deputations and questions.
As above. The public will be afforded the right to comment, on the detailed planning proposal when it is received, during the public advertising period.
4) Ms Chaproniere paraphrased:…also wants a contact register so any meetings between council staff and developers is available to the public, saying it would help increase transparency.
Given the daily nature of this activity and the number of contacts the City has on a wide variety of projects, adopting such a process would place an unreasonable impost and a considerable additional expense on the City and its ratepayers, for little benefit.
For the reasons above, such interactions are an important part of the planning process.
Planning processes are structured in a deliberate manner to minimise any risk of inappropriate behaviour.
It should be noted that the City’s staff and Elected Members are required at all times to comply with the City Employee Code of Conduct (Elected Member Code of Conduct and Employee Code of Conduct) which covers matters such as their role, conflicts of interest and personal conduct.
City of Cockburn CEO
The Ed says: That wasn’t our entire reply, the first part of which your response simply confirms; Ms Chaprioniere’s chief gripe is with state planning laws that provide for “standard practice” advice for developers who get to actually chat to council planners, while residents are left with DIY campaigns for projects that have major impacts on their amenity and a submission through a soulless website. Where’s the equity?