The community will have to wait another six months to find out whether Permacast will be given the green light for its previous and future expansion.
The Cardup-based precast concrete manufacturer elected for its retrospective and prospective development applications (DA) to be heard by the state-administered Metro Outer Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) which sat on Friday.
According to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage each panel is meant to consist of five members: three specialist members, with the final two panel members being council-elected representatives from the local government where the development is proposed.
At Friday’s zoom meeting, Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale president Michelle Rich and Cr Lauren Strange joined presiding member Eugene Koltasz and deputy presiding member Karen Hyde.
The third specialist member, Jason Hick, declared an indirect pecuniary interest and recused himself from the discussion and determination.
Two Cardup residents spoke vehemently against approval of the DAs.
Karen McEwen presented video and photographic evidence of the effect the company was having on the local environment and its direct neighbours.
She said the type of low-frequency caused by the stressing beds was not absorbed like other types of noise and acted differently on the body. She said the site was “too small for this organisation” and that the buffer zone was “non-existent”. And she said allowing the development would set a precedent for other companies to “act irresponsibly by ignoring protocol and laws”.
Mike Smowton appealed to the panel to consider the impact the expansion was having on the local Court Grammar School, which is approximately a kilometre from the concrete batching plant.
He said increased heavy vehicle traffic was creating a safety issue for children commuting to school, and that there was potential for contaminants from the concrete operations to leach into bore water used on the school fields.
“In addition, the area zoned ‘Bush Forever’ on the southern boundary of Lot 60 has been used as a general dumping area for concrete waste and facility refuse. A road and gateway through this ‘Bush Forever’ zone has been constructed to give access to Norman Road, further demonstrating their disregard of local planning rules and regulations,” he said.
He reiterated that applying for a development application retrospectively made a “mockery” of the planning process.
“We’ve had no chance to have a say on the expansion … the Cardup community deserves better,” he said.
Belinda Moharich also presented a comprehensive objection to the DA (on behalf of her clients Land Group WA and Gold Fusion who plan to develop the Whitby Town Estate) based on insufficient evidence being provided about dust management, the impact of vibration, bushfire risk, and increase of traffic.
On behalf of Permacast, Henry Dykstra appealed to the panel to consider a deferment of the decision on the DAs for “no less than three weeks”.
He argued that his client did not have sufficient time to address the peer-reviewed acoustic and vibration assessment conducted by the shire and which had informed their decision to advise refusal of the DAs. He also said the company was in the process of updating their plan to accommodate the concerns raised.
The shire’s director of development services Andrew Trosic was asked about the risk posed by a deferral.
He prefaced his response by saying he had never before been in this situation where a DA was going through deliberation while a prevention notice was in place by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER). He explained that he felt “quite uncomfortable with the shire being put in a situation where it’s being asked to mediate”, and suggested that it was vital to have a decision from DWER on the company’s ability to operate as a prescribed premise within environmental regulation.
He said that should the matter be deferred; it would realistically return to council by the end of the year and come back to the JDAP for review by February or March next year.
When the presiding member called for anyone to move the motion to refuse the DAs – the recommendation unanimously voted on by council just three weeks ago – no one spoke up.
Cr Rich then foreshadowed a motion to defer with conditions, including that Permacast cease all on-site operations while the determination was still in progress.
Mr Koltasz informed Cr Rich that the JDAP was unable to do that.
“We’re not a compliance panel. We don’t have the power to do that,” he said.
After a protracted discussion about procedure, Cr Strange then asked if it was possible to return to the original motion to refuse the DA.
She was told that motion had lapsed due to no mover or seconder and was now off the table.
Both Cr Strange and Cr Rich voted against the motion to defer the determination for a period of 180 days.
But both Mr Koltasz and Ms Hyde voted for the deferral. Mr Koltasz then used a casting vote as presiding member to seal the deal for deferral.
The seven Cardup residents against the development who were present at the meeting have since brought a letter of complaint to the Minister of Planning and asked that the decision be revoked because the “constitution of the development assessment panel was breached on two counts”. They principally believe a quorum was not reached with the third specialist member recusing and not replacing himself.
The appointed specialist members are currently serving a term which will expire on January 1, 2024. This means that none of the three specialist members who heard this case might still be serving in those roles when the matter comes back to the JDAP from March next year.