Julie Matheson

CFP Business Specialist | Local Government Expert | Political Adviser


Consultation is NOT consent. When the government ask for your opinion, it should not be a tick a box exercise that they have consulted and your have consented to their policies.

On this page you will find some resources to help build a submission or get in contact with other community groups to share their experience.


Before writing a submission, reach out to your local community group to find out if there is support for your concerns or issue.  I recommend you letterbox your local neighbours with a short message covering these 5 easy steps

  1. Did you know?… Explain the issue
  2. What you can do to help…. Invite people to write a letter or submission
  3. Take action by… contacting you and others in the community
  4. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper and include a photo if available
  5. Write your submission or statement before the deadline.

If the issue is bigger and has long term effects on your suburb caused by government policies, I recommend

Ian Love, Julie Matheson, Paige McNeil, Andre Timmermanis, Vicki Redden
Justice in WA planning


If your council has local laws that are in breach of the Local Government Act 1995, please write to the Committee for Delegated Legislation. Send them a copy of the local law and a reference to the Act. This should also apply to DAP Standing Orders and other documents. The DAP are meant to “stand in the shoes of Councillors to make their decisions”. Let’s hold them to account:

Chair: Mr Geoff Baker MLA
Deputy Chair: Hon. Lorna Harper MLC
Members: Mr Stuart Aubrey MLA
Hon. James Hayward MLC
Hon. Stephen Pratt MLC
Hon. Martin Pritchard MLC
Dr Katrina Stratton MLA
Ms Christine Tonkin MLA


When drafting a written submission or statement always reference source documents like you are preparing a witness statement for a legal challenge.  This preparation is important.

Use source documents from planning documents, local laws and legislation.  Without these sources the government and the developer will ignore you.


Civil Liability Act 2002, Part 1C:  Duty of care by “(f) a local government, regional local government or regional subsidiary; or (h) a body or officer prescribed (or of a class prescribed) by the regulations as a public body or officer to which this Part applies (in respect of all or specified functions)”.  Planning officers are duty bound to formulate those opinions ‘reasonably’ and on the basis of proper material and owe a specific duty of care to affected property owners and residents to act reasonably in their assessments and not to misrepresent facts as set out s. 5B of the Act.

Civil Liability Act 2002:  Damages or harm caused to a person by parties prescribed under s. 5U of the Act. These damages or harm are founded on the principles laid out in s. 5X of the Act; whereby a defence falls away where “the decision was so unreasonable that no reasonable public body or officer in the defendant’s position could have made it”. [Section 5X inserted: No. 58 of 2003 s. 8.]

Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015, August 2015.  See Part 9 Clause 67, pages 3562 – 3565, Matters to be considered by local government especially (t) to (zb).  This clause is particularly helpful to protect amenity, yet is being ignored by some councils and the DAP.  Better use needs to be made:  Planning and Development Regs 2015

R-Codes, State Planning Policy 3.1, Residential Design Codes, 2015 which also refers to Regulations 2015.  This policy has discretionary clauses which allows anything to approved using “R-Codes approval processdesign principles and judgement of merit“. This Code is particularly damaging to the amenity of existing communities which have yet to describe the URBAN CHARACTER of the area.  What may be acceptable to the decision maker (the DAP) may be outrageous to the local community.  Also the R-Codes permit the demolition of a single house without planning permission.  This allowance is particularly outrageous to most existing communities with character homes and buildings.  http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/dop_pub_pdf/State_Planning_Policy_3.1-Residential_Design_Codes-P.pdf

Justification of excess R-Code development:  See this link which has many examples of why the DAP approved excess development in areas using Judgement of Merit and discretion clauses from Town Planning Schemes.

Streetscape: This federal government link describes streetscape as more than the front view. Streetscape should encourage community interaction and exchange.  It should convey a sense of openness and sharing while offering a degree of privacy.  Designing a new home should reflect the character, natural environment, heritage significance, density, style and cultural mix.

Active Open Space: If the MRA are proposing Singapore density in your community, make sure there is plenty of Active Open Space and quote this report by Cardo, Future Requirements for Sports Space, November 2016.

Activity Centre Plans: The policy reflects the Western Australian Planning Commission’s intention to encourage and consolidate residential and commercial development in activity centres so that they contribute to a balanced network. These plans provide the planning framework for managing land use and development in the Town Centre of a local government. It requires an extensive community engagement process with the residents and business owners within the relevant area.  A Local Development Plan is required for landmark sites to address building heights, setbacks and heritage fabric retention, page 25.

Scheme Amendments:  If the zoning of a local area has an adverse impact on amenity, the landowners can request their elected members of Council to put up a scheme amendment.  WAPC Form is required.  Link to form

Scheme Review: One of the reasons to request a Local Planning Scheme review is population management of the area. WAPC requests details of the current population of the local government area, as well as the predicted population change (population projections available from the WAPC’s WA Tomorrow publication). Where will this population be located? What demands will the population create in regard to land development, infrastructure and services? Link to form

A quote by Chief Justice David Malcolm on using discretion to approve or refuse development applications:

“The ambit of the discretion available to a local authority under its own town planning scheme and under the MRS arose for consideration in Camfield Nominees Pty. Ltd. v. Town of Claremont”‘ and Jobalin Pty. Ltd. v City of Subiaco.  In both of those cases the proposed development met all the technical requirements of the relevant local authority schemes and of the Uniform Building By-Laws 1974 in relation to such matters as plot ratio, height, setbacks, density, carparking, open space and landscaping. In each case the appellant required an approval both under the local authority scheme and under c1.30 of the MRS. The Tribunal held that the mere fact that a proposal conformed with a town planning scheme created no right to have it approved. In each case the proposal had to be considered having regard to the matters referred to in c1.30 of the MRS. Thus, the Council was entitled to find that the proposed development would be out of context with the surrounding residential area and have an adverse impact upon amenity, although it complied with the technical requirements of the scheme.

DAP Agenda and Minutes of Meeting: http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/About-DAPs.asp

DAP Code of Conduct details impartiality rules of the panel:  Click here:

DAP Regulations 2011 : http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_reg/padapr2011650/

DAP Procedures Manual: http://daps.planning.wa.gov.au/data/Publications/Procedure%20Manuals/Development%20Assessment%20Panel%20procedures%20manual%20-%20DAP%20members.pdf

DAP Responsible Authority Reports should only be prepared by an officer if they have delegated authority from the Council (elected members): Click here

DAP Standing Orders:  See pages 6 to 16 relating to advertising and conduct of meetings:  http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/daps/data/Publications/Guidances%20Notes%20-%20Code%20of%20Conduct%20-%20Standing%20Orders/Standing%20Orders.pdf

DAP Training Notes: How to make a planning decision: http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/daps/data/Member%20Training/DAP%20Member%20Training%20Notes.pdf

Planning and Development Act 2005: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/pada2005236/

SAT Act 2004:  Section 31 invites the DAP to engage in secret meetings with the developer:  http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/sata2004320/s31.html

SAT Act 2004: Section 54 is used to have the meetings with the developer in secret where changes are made to the application without public scrutiny: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/sata2004320/s54.html

SAT Regulations 2004: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_reg/satr2004429/

SAT Act 2004: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/sata2004320/

SAT Rules 2004: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_reg/satr2004369/

SAT Bill 2003: Explanatory Memorandum:  Accessible one-stop shop with minimal formality and costs  http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Parliament/Bills.nsf/7B8FF57617C5408048256D4F0009D907/$File/EM%2B-%2BBill%2B213-1.pdf

The Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990 Local Planning Policy: Link to policy document.  requires local government to implement local planning policy “to ensure that development does not adversely affect the significance of heritage places and areas.”

State Planning Policy 3.5 requires:  The identification of places and areas of local heritage significance is provided for in the Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990, which requires all local governments to identify heritage places in local government inventories (formerly ‘municipal inventories’).  The conservation and protection of places and areas of local heritage significance is provided for in the Planning and Development Act 2005, which enables local governments to protect heritage places and objects in local planning schemes.

WA Planning Commission’s State Planning Policy 3.5 Historic Heritage ConservationLink to policy document If a proposed development requires demolition of some or all of the existing building, and the development is out of character for the neighbourhood, use clause 6.3 URBAN CHARACTER AREAS which states “Urban character is essentially identified by built form and age, topography, open space, streetscape, land use and activity, and all areas exhibit some form of urban character. However planning controls in urban character areas do not necessarily require restrictions on demolition or building design.”

Metropolitan Region Improvement Tax Act 1959 (land tax) to fund planning for roads, rail and reserves for public open space:  https://www.slp.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_584_homepage.html

Reasons for keeping land tax: http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/dop_pub_pdf/MRIT_Sept_07_Reprint.pdf

How land tax is to be used: http://www.finserv.uwa.edu.au/tax/state/land

For more help, please contact Julie Matheson using the form below:

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