City of Perth’s Design Advisory Committee

I received the following email from Jackson; there is no point me paraphrasing any of this as it is said quite well:

Hi Perth Architecture,

I really enjoy reading your blog, so thanks for all the work you put into it! If you are looking for something to post about, I thought it might be a good idea to have a think about the City of Perth Design Advisory Committee. The DAC is there to refine a design before it is put by the applicant to council. A lot of the issues are relatively small, but would have a positive effect on the final product. However, I can’t help but think the DAC is totally ineffective and unnecessary. I’m not sure if you are familiar with many of their decisons, but the minutes of all their meetings are available here

When looking at a lot of their recommendations it is clear that the DAC serves only to water down designs, which not only makes for a more boring city but discourages developers from pursuing alternative designs in the future. If there is one thing we have too much off in this city it is white concrete, yet the DAC seems to encourage it! Any idea of colour is thrown out the window by the DAC. There are a couple of brief examples I can give you here; the first is the DA by the owners/developers of The Melbourne Hotel site, on the corner of Hay and Milligan.

The original design:

The design after the DAC process:

Here is some info from the DAC:

I am quite happy to note that the process did result in the improvement of the Milligan Street frontage.

One more example (this email is getting a bit long!). This one is currently before council for the Wilsons Carpark on Murray St (finally being developed!). The building looks great×600/Commercial/3861/5843861,1315807784,ImageA.jpg

There DAC process seems to have resulted in a couple of positive changes to the street frontages as you can read about here:

The language they use just seems unnecessary to me. The development would be a great addition to Murray St, but the DAC just seems to object to the design on the basis that it might actually be bold and get some attention.

Anyway, I don’t want to take up too much of your time. It would be interesting to know your thoughts.



Thanks for your email Jackson. I have been following the rise of the DAP‘s with some interest, but have not yet had a project that has needed their intervention, so don’t have any personal experience of them. Anyone worked with one yet? Good? Bad? I suppose they are like any assessment group, there is always some who are braver than others, and design decisions can so often be subjective, which is more difficult once you have a group pof people with conflicting opinions and priorities. Have they made the process more streamlined? How early can they be consulted? And what is the appeal process?


5 thoughts on “City of Perth’s Design Advisory Committee

  1. Obviously the DAC has nw been superseded by the DAP process so we’ll see what happens. But with respect to the examples given, personally I think the original design for the Melbourne Hotel site was awful. A horribly ubiquitos commercial curtain wall aesthetic that is overbearing and totally insensitive to the existing context. I think the DAC process improved it a bit but frankly it would have been better if the architects had torn it up and started again!

  2. Yes congrats to Perth ARchitecture takes a bit of work to keep a blog going….

    hmmm…yes committees sometimes just an extra layer…

    2c worth…I don’t know, but the both the before and afters of that building are ugly! Don’t mind a bit of colour but it looks like someone took a wide angle photo and the high rise got distorted…yes its all so totally subjective….

  3. Thanks for publishing. It is interesting to hear peoples feedback. Of course the actual designs are subjective, but whether the committee is actually beneficial to the process is another question. Of course this might change with DAP’s, will be interesting to see what happens there because I am still mot 100% clear on how it is working.
    I think the biggest issue I am trying to raise is that I would hate to see developers not even attempt any development with out of the ordinary architecture simply because they think it will be watered down during the application process.

  4. DAP and DAC are two different processes.

    DAC or Design Advisory Committee is a specialist Committee engaged by the City of Perth to provide specific design based comments. As discussed in great length above. Their comments do not form any legal part of the development application process, however they are used extensively by the City’s planning staff to assist in their overall assessment.

    The relatively new Development Assessment Panels or DAP’s is an independent state government body that are given the authority to approve developments dependent upon their cost of construction. Basically a process where major developments are considered by a panel of professionals with 2 Elected Members. This new process which does not alleviate the need to have your proposal be considered by the DAC if it is within the City of Perth jurisdiction, was born from a need to remove unfortunate local political decisions being made on important and large scale developments.

    So in its simplest form, if you lodge a major development proposal with the City of Perth, your Application will be required to be sent to the DAC for design comment, before the City’s planners write their report and recommendations to the DAP for their determination. the only difference between that and a small scale development is that a smaller Application will still go to the DAC for design comment, however the Application will then be determined by the City of Perth at a Full Council Meeting, rather than the independent DAP.

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