I’D like to respond to the front-page article “Property council criticises CBACP report” printed across the Herald mastheads on Saturday, October 22, 2022.
As an elected official, the decision to advertise both the Council Reference Group report and the draft Canning Bridge Activity Centre Plan (CBACP), supports my position and that of the Council, that the view of the people who will be impacted is important.
I insisted that the Council Reference Group submission be advertised for public comment as part of the process, otherwise I ask, what is the point of the process if not for the people?
I’ve noted the concerns about housing supply. If increased housing supply has the potential to impact our community, then the community have the right to have their say.
As a Council, we are always concerned about the impact decisions make on our residents, and the Canning Bridge Activity Centre Plan is no different.
We always encourage the community to have a voice in the decisions that impact them.
Mayor City of Melville
Lost their way
AS reported in the October 22 edition of the Herald, the head of the Property Council of WA suggests that “planning is a professional practice, not a democratic process”.
In my view this neatly captures much of the problem with planning in this state. Too often planners see their job as a narrow technical exercise, not part of a democratic process.
This, with respect, is quite simply wrong. This error assumes that the professional and democratic aspects of planning are opposed.
But there is no reason to create a false dichotomy here.
Many professions give effect to the democratic process. Judges, police and public servants, to name a few, all apply rules determined by the democratic process which reflect the community’s shared expectations.
This is not in conflict with their professional practice. Rather, it is the essence of it.
Similarly planning is, at its core, about our shared democratic expectations. It is the means by which a community expresses aspirations for the future.
The planner’s professional expertise is needed to distil the community’s desires into a set of rules which will best secure those outcomes – rules which we can then apply consistently and coherently to achieve a shared vision.
The State Administrative Tribunal put it plainly in Kogon and City of Vincent  WASAT 75 when it said: “Planning law needs to keep pace with the demands of the community which it ultimately serves.”
The undeniable reality is that planning is both a professional practice and a democratic process. If we fail to take this seriously we seem doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Deputy Mayor, City of Melville
CBACP group hits back
I REFER to the article: “Property council criticises CBACP report” on the front page of the Herald dated October 22, 2022.
In contrast to the warning from the head of the Property Council that the report of the Council Reference Group (CRG) poses a risk to housing supply, the CRG’s report is based on detailed modelling which conservatively projects that the density targets set by the WAPC will easily be met by the due date, and most likely exceeded, with the recommendations of the CRG.
Orderly and proper planning requires that density be measured, not unrestrained, as is the main defect with the current CBACP, especially given such poor access
to the Canning Bridge train station, and increasing traffic congestion feeding into, and along, Canning Highway, which will not be resolved for decades.
The Property Council warning about setting back affordable housing is not supported by sales evidence from the property market in the CBACP, where the current starting price for a one-bedroom apartment is upwards of $580,000 (which is 35 per cent higher than the current Perth median unit price), plus high annual strata fees, whereas, in other suburbs free standing green title property can be purchased for less and without annual strata fees.
Developers have also found that demand for one-bedroom apartments is poor and they are consequently choosing to ignore the CBACP requirement for a minimum ratio of one-bedroom apartments, so the impact on “affordable housing“ stems from the developer’s choice and not because of anything proposed by the CRG report.
The CRG agrees with the following statement on the Property Council of WA’s website that;
“Property is more than physical buildings – it is vibrant communities, activated spaces, logistic and supply networks and playgrounds where Western Australians can live, create and innovate.”
The CBACP is being reviewed precisely because, after seven years of lived experience, the majority of residents and ratepayers in the City of Melville believe that the up to 100 per cent bonus heights granted to developers for negligible community benefits have resulted in the antithesis to the above statement.
The role of the Property Council is to represent the interests of its members: being mainly property developers, management, professional advisors and trade providers.
This puts the objects of the Property Council in direct conflict with the role of councillors of
the City of Melville, which is to represent the interests of residents and ratepayers, many of whom have suffered irreparable loss of amenity and financial loss arising from the current CBACP drafted by the “experts”.
The members of the CRG were chosen by City planning officers from a large pool of participants in the early consultation phase of the Hatch Roberts Day review of the CBACP.
Rather than undermine Melville council‘s decision to advertise the CRG report, and the hard work and representative nature of the CRG, we would urge the Property Council to please take note of the below quote from the cover page of the CRG report regarding the ‘inevitability” of planning: “…..there could hardly be a more unbearable – and more irrational – world than one in which the most eminent specialists in each field were allowed to proceed unchecked with the realisation of their ideals.”
Adam Smith (1776) Moral Philosopher and “Father” of Economics.
Council Reference Group