Group a PCC threat?

A new group will oversee the planning of the Perth City Council’s area.

The Central Perth Planning Committee, comprising Planning Ministry CEO Gerry Pratley, WA Planning Commission CEO Simon Holthouse, Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass, a business representative and community representative, is expected to come to life in late November.

According to a spokesman for Planning Minister Graham Kierath, the committee will cover all areas within the PCC’s boundaries.

It will not be limited to areas under WA Planning Commission jurisdiction as many expected.

The spokesman said the committee would have statutory powers and be able to deal with planning applications for Crown land – something the PCC is currently unable to do.

The spokesman said the committee would not be usurping the PCC’s power. He said it would sit between the council and government planning authorities.

However, Perth City Councillors can be excused for still feeling a little worried, given that in the past year their area of influence has been eroded.

The boundaries of the East Perth Redevelopment Authority have been extended to include the police headquarters, the old Metrobus depot and Government Chemical Laboratories.

It has been long argued that a government-linked body is necessary to oversee the planning of the capital city, mainly because the government is one of the few bodies with the funds to pay for development projects on the scale required.

City stakeholder representatives, such as the Property Council of Australia, have long been calling for such a committee.

Property Council of Australia WA chief executive Joe Lenzo said he was still waiting for Mr Kierath’s ‘all powerful’ committee.

“The PCC has put up some plans, there’s been the Royal Australian Institute of Architects-organised charette and all the work of the Perth – a City for People program,” Mr Lenzo said.

“Because of a lack of coordination these plans have sat gathering dust.”

Mr Lenzo said the opportunity cost of not having such a committee was enormous.

In 1998 the Property Council even branded Perth a rudderless city, saying planning was being done on an ad hoc basis.

This was an arguable point because for much of the 1990s the PCC has been without a town planner.

The position was abolished when the Court Government-appointed commissioners supervised the hiving off of the Towns of Vincent, Cambridge and Victoria Park from the old PCC.

In 1995, the new PCC presented plans showing how it would improve the lighting, public furniture, public artworks and landscaping in the city.

As yet little seems to have been done with them except for some work on street furniture.

Dr Nattrass said the position of town planner would be filled by either planning consultant Ken Adam or Nedlands City Council executive Max Hopkins in the third week of November. He said both had played an important role in making comments on issues in Perth.

It had been suggested the planner should be one of the world’s best and be employed to put together a design framework for Perth. The necessary work would then be carried out by council staff.

However, Dr Nattrass said he believed a planner should be someone who knew the City of Perth.

“To me it is almost essential we have someone who really knows the background of the city and its sensitivities,” he said.

Dr Nattrass said the main issue facing the new town planner would be greater use of Perth’s “greatest asset – the Swan River”.

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