Planning reform progress through WA Parliament

The Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2020 is progressing through Parliament with substantial amendments to what is deemed a ‘significant development.’

Property Council WA, in partnership with Master Builders Association WA are jointly advocating for amendments to made to the Planning & Development Amendment Bill 2020.

The Bill proposes to create an 18-month fast-track approval pathway for significant development applications and other referred developments, a measure introduced to provide immediate support for the State’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

Development applications that meet the 'significant development' criteria can opt in to the fast-track approval pathway and will be assessed and determined by the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC).

The model will ensure large and complex developments receive a State co-ordinated approach with referral agencies and streamlined assessment processes to ensure job creating projects can start as soon as possible.

Under the legislation, the State Government originally proposed the parameters for significant developments to include those that cost $30 million or more, residential projects with 100 or more dwellings or commercial projects with at least 20,000sqm net lettable area (NLA).

The Property Council has advocated strongly for the initial thresholds to be amended to lower the value threshold and remove the additional requirements in order to capture a greater number of projects and generate more local jobs.

The risk of the 100 dwelling and 20,000sqm NLA requirements is that projects will narrowly miss out being fast-tracked through the significant development pathway, and potentially risk being delayed through the normal approval process. This is a particularly unfavourable outcome, particularly given as residential development activity is forecasted to fall significantly over the coming months as a result of COVID-19.

Furthermore, fast-tracking residential housing projects will assist homebuyers to fully maximise on the State Government recently announced, Building Bonus initiative.

Following our advocacy efforts, the Legislative Council has passed amendments to lower the value threshold to $20 million or more for projects in metropolitan areas and $5 million or more for projects in regional areas, as well as removing the additional dwelling and NLA requirements.

The Bill will now need to pass the Legislative Council before being sent back to the Legislative Assembly to confirm adoption of the amendments. Once the amended Bill passes the Legislative Assembly, it will become law and the assessment and approval process can begin to be rolled out.