Nationals WA leader Shane Love.

Nationals pledge to reform DAPs

Nationals WA leader Shane Love says the introduction of DAPs over a decade ago ripped local decision making out of communities.
May 9, 2024

THE Nationals WA will reform the state’s development assessment panels (DAPs) to boost local representation and enhance community engagement in planning and decision-making.

Leader Shane Love said DAPs have become increasingly contentious following reforms which came into effect on March 1.

“The introduction of DAPs over a decade ago ripped local decision making out of our communities in favour of assessment panels which have long-been controlled by ministerial appointed specialists, with just two roles on each panel for local representation.

“These panels have continually eroded the role of local government, and communities across WA are frustrated at the potential loss of their local identities and their unique sense of place.

“Many of the changes introduced by Labor this year have further centralised decision making to state government, and our reforms will help empower local voices in planning for the future of their communities.”

The Nationals will seek to add an additional local government role to each DAP, delivering equal representation between the specialist members and local representatives and ensuring these panels are balanced.

Mr Love said the Nationals would also seek to increase the threshold for which projects could be referred for assessment from $2 million to $5m.

“With escalating construction costs, we are seeing relatively minor projects totally side-step local planning laws by reaching this low threshold and referring themselves straight to DAPs.

“There are currently dozens of projects which fall within this threshold awaiting assessment, including childcare centres, service stations, kennels, gyms, and short stay accommodation.”

Almost 35 per cent of the applications currently before the development assessment panels related to projects valued under $5m.

Mr Love said these types of projects warranted community-based decision making to ensure they were appropriate and that matters like noise, amenity, traffic and parking were properly managed.

“We shouldn’t be seeing developers circumvent local planning by virtue of costing a few dollars more than similar existing projects.

“And we shouldn’t be seeing new housing projects and significant industry projects which are so desperately needed being held up behind service stations, fast food outlets and AirBnBs.

“Raising this threshold will streamline assessment, clearing projects from the backlog, and allow DAPs to get back to their key role of approving and advising on truly significant projects.”

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