Planning ‘goal posts’ under review

COUNCIL must change its development requirements so people know what is required, says councillor Jennifer MacGill.

Mrs MacGill said council was approving buildings that did not comply with planning codes and refusing those that did comply.

“We’ve allowed a number of goals to be scored outside the goal posts,” she said.

“Perhaps we need to look at shifting the posts.”

At its 23 November meeting, five of the nine development applications before council were approved even though in some way they did not comply with planning codes.

Council does have discretionary powers that allow it to grant such approvals.

Councillor Laurance Good-man said he believed the

discretionary system was better than a regulatory regime.

“Otherwise councillors have nothing to debate,” Mr Good-man said.

“Still, there is room for us to tighten our policy.”

Councillor Janet Davidson said there were a number of items where non-compliance was “shouting loud and clear”.

Council officer Peter Monks said the discretionary powers gave it an opportunity to negotiate with applicants and help them meet council objectives.

“We can encourage good design,” Mr Monks said.

“There are some parts of the planning codes that don’t meet council objectives – for example, Residential Planning Codes.

“The codes are a disincentive to inner city living.”

Mr Monks said R Codes were at their best when applied to a suburban situation – not an urban one.

One example of the R Codes affecting planning on council’s patch is in terms of setbacks.

The R Codes often call for much larger setbacks than are conducive to consistent design in some parts of Perth.

“We are in the strange situation where sometimes a person has met the R Code requirements and we’ve asked them to move their development forward,” Mr Monks said.

“Council has tried to look at the character of particular areas and find things that work for them.”

Councillor Bert Tudori said council’s use of discretionary powers was getting out of hand.

“If the R Codes are causing problems to inner city living, then let’s change them,” Mr Tudori said.

The WA Planning Commis-sion is currently undertaking a review of the R Codes.

Council CEO Garry Hunt said council would be putting in a submission asking for the R Codes to not apply to the city.

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