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Panel’s uncertain future

THE future of the City of Perth’s Bonus Plot Ratio Advisory Panel is in limbo after councillors failed to come to an agreement on its final makeup at last week’s meeting.

At the core of the disagreement is whether elected councillors should sit on what was intended as an independent panel.

The panel was formed in 1969 to provide the council with technical advice and recommendations from architects and planners on development proposals that seek additional plot ratios.

Cr Vincent Tan proposed that two council representatives sit on the panel, along with two staff representatives, to give input into the final recommendations that came before the council.

Former councillor Laurence Goodman sat on the panel for two years, but he was

the first to do so in the history of the panel.

“Bonus plot ratios are a prime planning tool which can be used to shape our city the way we want it,” Cr Tan said.

“Recommendations have a particular slant and by the time things come to council it is too late.

“Many technical people think in narrow horizons and we have to have people in there who are seen to be representative of the ratepayers.

“Architects and planners don’t have a requirement to listen to the ratepayers, we do, otherwise we lose our jobs.”

In the absence of Cr Lisa Scaffidi, the council was split, and Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass was forced to use his casting vote to defeat Cr Tan’s motion.

Dr Nattrass maintained the panel should be a professional advisory committee, untainted by lobbying that councillors often received.

“What we want is bland technical, professional advice from which we (the council) make the decision,” Dr Nattrass said.

“I never like to see the absence of elected members on a committee but in this case it is appropriate.”

A second motion put by Cr Michael Sutherland to reduce the number of staff members sitting on the panel to one also was lost.

Dr Nattrass was confident that, while there were differing opinions on the final makeup of the panel, the matter would soon be resolved.

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