Taylor Burrell Barnett

TBB Reacts: Changes to Development Assessment Panels


Lex Barnett
Practice Fellow

18 Mar 2022

TBB welcomes the latest announcement by the Minister for Planning regarding the phase two planning reforms in relation to the Development Assessment Panel system.

While the DAP system has been in use for some time now, it is clear that there is room to improve the system.

Key changes to the Joint DAPS, replacing the five panels with 3 District DAPS and appointing fixed term presiding and deputy presiding members, as employees of the DPLH, will enhance the perceived independence of the panels and should improve consistency in decision-making; however, it does remain to be seen as to the background and experience of the employed personnel, given that members will not be permitted to have other employment elsewhere – currently JDAP members come from a large pool of senior professionals from both the private and public sectors, and therefore generally bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the system. Most of these people will be ineligible under the new system.

Proposed changes will enhance the perceived independence of the panels and should improve consistency in decision-making.

The other positive change is the removal of the mandatory threshold, providing greater flexibility for proponents to choose to have larger scale proposals dealt with by Local Governments where circumstances suit. This will provide LGAs a greater incentive to negotiate positively with development proponents in order that they may maintain greater control in the decision-making process.

The introduction of the new Special Matters DAP has been an anticipated and welcome move, as the State Development Assessment Unit has now concluded its term under the Covid Response initiative. A couple of important considerations have not been directly addressed in the information just released:

  1. Will the SMDAP be bound by local legislation – in particular Local Planning Schemes – or will it be required only to have due regard, as was the case with the SDAU?
  2. Will the SMDAP be empowered to enforce intergovernmental coordination, which was seen as a particular strength of the SDAU system?

Clarity and certainty in the process is going to be critical to the success of the new system, when considering the scale and levels of investment involved in the state-significant proposals likely to be referred to the SMDAP.

TBB looks forward to participating actively and constructively with the DPLH to ensure that this next raft of reforms are the best they can be.

Learn more about Development Assessment Panels reforms


Lex Barnett
Practice Fellow