A recent Joint Development Assessment Panel (DAP) vote really shows that DAPs are a law unto themselves, and that urgent action is required from Minister Rita Saffioti and the State Labor government to reign them in.
On Tuesday 23 October 2019, hidden away within the Department of Planning, Lands & Heritage city building, the 3 specialist panel members and 2 Councillors met to discuss a development application. It is not recorded, and the location hardly invites anyone from the media or public to attend, so most people would be oblivious to this.
At issue is a development application at 34 Jackson Street (Bayswater) and the trees on the verge. There can be no question that trees have a financial value, and generally, the more mature a tree is, the higher the value. This can be observed at any nursery.
As such trees are assets.
The applicant decided to design their development so that a number of street trees would be required to be removed – this even included a request for tree removals so signage could be installed. They then took exception to the City of Bayswater’s request that compensation be paid to the City for the loss of those assets, and the amenity the trees provided to the area. This is in accordance with a City of Bayswater policy.
Remarkably, the DAP ignored the City of Bayswater Officer’s recommendation and instead granted the developer the right to take possession of the City assets at no cost, and destroy them. Simply put, public assets were gifted to a developer. One could question whether the DAP have acted ultra vires …
In fact, when I was on DAP prior to the election and discussed this application before it was deferred, I did question whether DAP had the power to take control of public assets to gift to private enterprise. As a DAP member I filled out a form seeking Departmental legal advice – “In order to facilitate a private development, does JDAP have the authority to allow Local Government assets to be destroyed for nil consideration?”. To the best of my knowledge this request was simply ignored and no advice was sought.
Maybe now Minister Rita Saffioti should answer the question. Because DAPs are taking control of City assets and gifting them to property developers.
There have long been complaints about DAPs consisting of 3 “specialist” members and 2 Councillors, and the closeness of the “specialist” members to some applicants, and the property industry on the whole.
And there have been complaints about how close the State Labor government is to property developers. We know they are getting money from developers (apparently “it’s just a fact of life”), we just don’t know how deep within the developer’s pockets they are. Gifting public assets to developers takes things to a whole new level.
As to any “climate emergency”, clearly the State government doesn’t view there is one. Because if they did, they would protect our tree stock.
Lastly, this is much bigger than this development. It will impact future decision making at the City of Bayswater. And decision making at other local governments, such as the City of Stirling which also applies a financial value (Helliwell Method) to trees on public land when a developer wants to remove.
A new low has been reached from DAPs.