Western Australia's top administrative tribunal has acknowledged ‘very poor public administration of planning and environmental laws' in relation to The University of Western Australia's proposal to develop land it has owned since 1904 in Shenton Park.
The State Administrative Tribunal said the University's attempt to develop its land in Underwood Avenue, had been conducted ‘amid myriad interruptions' caused by various environmental processes and had become a ‘nightmare'.
In finding that the University did not have a right of review and therefore that the Tribunal lacked jurisdiction to determine the matter, the Tribunal indicated that there were two options for ‘all concerned to awake from this Kafkaesque nightmare'.
The Tribunal indicated that this could be either through the State Government taking charge of the process or by mediation involving all relevant parties.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson acknowledged the decision and welcomed the Tribunal's call for the process to be finalised.
"We welcome and support the view that the State Government could take charge of this process," Professor Robson said.
He said the University had appealed to the Tribunal because the City of Nedlands would not progress the University's Outline Development Plan for the Shenton Park site.
In its decision, the Tribunal said it had been prevented from making a final determination by the Environmental Protection Act and noted that the University's attempts to plan and develop its land over the past decade have been stymied by ‘many and varied processes none of which have determined the development potential of the site.'
It said: ‘The amount of public time, effort and money that has been expended ... in relation to planning proposals to the site is extraordinary. Furthermore, the various processes referred to earlier, which have been inconsistent, indeterminate and, apparently, never-ending, reflect very poor public administration of planning and environmental laws.'
Professor Robson said the community should be rightly concerned at the Tribunal's specific references to the inordinate waste of public resources which has resulted from what are clearly dysfunctional processes.
A copy of the decision is available at: http://decisions.justice.wa.gov.au/SAT/SATdcsn.nsf )
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716