Who needs community when it’s all about development?


At the last Council meeting, Council felt it had a problem…

Developers, planners, architects and the property industry in general were often presenting poor or just ordinary designs for development. No argument from me on that one.

But wait for the solution – Council decided to set up a ‘Design Review Panel’ made up of the very same persons they were complaining about (i.e. – architects, planners and other property consultants, some of whom will no doubt also be developers) to review applications and make recommendations to Council or Development Assessment Panels (“DAP”) on design.

Members of the panel will be paid by ratepayers with the new regime estimated to cost more than $100,000 per annum.
All community engagement is excluded with the appointment of 5 property industry professionals and no community presentations or submissions allowed at panel hearings.

I suggested in a question to Council that such a significant change to the planning process at least be advertised before being implemented. Nope – only Cr Re from the Doubleview Ward and Cr Spagnolo from the Osborne Ward agreed with that idea.

I also suggested that the panel comprise some community representation. Nope – only Cr Re agreed with that idea.
We already know DAPs operate by way of the property industry approving the property industry. Now we have a bunch of 5 un-elected property industry professionals giving their subjective views on ‘design excellence’ to the exclusion of all community.

These panels have the potential to be very developer friendly, recommending over height, under parked, over bulked developments because of a building’s design contribution…. Please….

Proving that the wider community do read their agendas, other residents from Dianella, Doubleview, Karrinyup and Scarborough also turned up to Council to express concerns.

There was not one resident to speak in support. The idea for the panels was originally moved by Cr Bianca Sandri from the Inglewood Ward. Cr Sandri is a qualified town Planner owning and operating a town planning firm.

The proof will be in the pudding for this new regime but the City of Stirling has a talented pool of planning officers led by an experienced Director. It has within its capacity the expertise to determine guidelines for important locales and activity centres within the City of Stirling.

We have seen this with the Character Protection Guidelines in Inglewood, Menora and Mount Lawley.
More recently, the City of Stirling won a national planning award for it consultation on developing the Beaufort St Scheme Amendment Guidelines.

Preparing good design guidelines is time consuming and involves a lot of community consultation but as we have seen can be award winning!

Sadly, I feel Council has outsourced design excellence to the exclusion of good community backed design and proper community consultation.