FAQs: Initiative C8 - Development Assessment Panels

Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about changes to Development Assessment Panels (DAPs).

What are Development Assessment Panels (DAPs)?

DAPs were introduced into the WA planning system in July 2011 and are decision-making panels that are intended to enhance planning expertise in decision-making by improving the balance between technical advice and local knowledge. The role of DAP members is to determine development applications within a certain type and value threshold through consistent, accountable, and professional decision-making.

Under the Planning and Development (Development Assessment Panels) Regulations 2011, each DAP determines development applications that meet set type and value thresholds, under the relevant planning instrument, such as the local planning scheme or region planning scheme. The DAP regulations state that DAP applications cannot be determined by local government or the WAPC.

More information about current DAP arrangements is available on our website.

What changes will be made to DAPs?

Initiative C8 of the Action Plan aims to achieve a more consistent, transparent and robust DAP process to reduce potential conflicts of interest and promote consistency of decision-making. This will be achieved through a range of structural, procedural and governance changes to the DAP system.

Key structural changes include:

  • a reduction in the total number of DAPs from nine panels to no more than three
  • the engagement of a reduced number of DAP specialist members on a full-time basis (in place of the existing 48-member pool)
  • the establishment a pool of subject matter experts to provide independent, specific advice when required.

No changes are proposed to the arrangements for local government councillor representation on DAPs.

Key procedural changes include:

  • an improved statement of reasons for DAP decisions which address key matters raised in the Responsible Authority Report and submissions received
  • DAP meetings being held at regular times, with the option to hold meetings outside of ordinary business hours where appropriate
  • meetings being audio recorded, with recordings made available online
  • procedures and practice notes will be updated to provide clear arrangements for deferring matters, managing addition information presented at meetings and exercising flexibility in meeting procedures where appropriate.

All administrative support will be provided by the DPLH DAP Secretariat and additional governance resources will be available to attend meetings, clarify processes and ensure consistent and correct meeting procedures.

What are the benefits of the proposed changes to DAPs?

A streamlined DAP structure will assist in improving the consistency of DAP procedures and decisions and address community concerns regarding perceived conflicts of interest, while retaining the benefits of the DAP system in considering proposals in a timely and independent manner with a balance between technical advice and local knowledge.
 

When are the changes happening?

There are no immediate changes to the DAP system arising from release of the Action Plan, however several early actions have been identified which will see new administrative procedures and practices established with the existing DAP structure to:

  • provide an improved statement of reasons that address key matters raised in the Responsible Authority Report and submissions 
  • provide clear arrangements for deferring matters, managing additional information presented at meetings and exercising flexibility in meeting procedures where appropriate.

The more substantial structural changes to the DAP system will require legislative changes and will be progressed in the short to medium term.

Does the release of the Action Plan affect current DAP applications? 

No. There are no immediate changes to the planning system arising from release of the Action Plan. Existing DAP development applications will continue to be progressed in accordance with current legislative requirements. 
 

How will changes to the DAP system take place?

A number of the early actions will see some procedural and practice changes adopted to improve the consistency and transparency of DAP procedures in the short term. Explanatory materials will be available and notice given before these changes are made.

Further information regarding the more substantial structural changes to the DAP system will be provided by the Department. Transitional arrangements will be carefully considered and developed and will be published by the DPLH to ensure that all requirements are clearly known for future DAP applications.
 

Will I still be able to see proposals and make submissions on applications being considered by a DAP?

Yes. The Department regularly updates its website with a list of current DAP applications. The existing requirements for notification, advertising and consultation of development applications have not changed.

Action Plan Initiatives C7 and B2 seek to standardise consultation and development application processes more generally and changes associated with these initiatives may be incorporated into the DAP system in the future where appropriate.
 

Page last reviewed 13 August 2019
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