Planning overhaul to drive WA’s economy

The State Government last week announced sweeping changes to WA’s planning system to assist the local economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The reforms, totalling 26 all up, are largely based upon the Planning Reform Action Plan announced in the second half of last year. Property Council WA welcomes this announcement and strongly supports the proposals, some of which have been progressed following our Planning Recovery Response submission made to Planning Minister Rita Saffioti in early April.

Major reforms include providing the Western Australian Planning Commission with the temporary ability to assess and approve major projects that meet certain criteria. In order for a project to be eligible for this stream of approval, it must be $30 million or greater in value, contain 100 or more residential units or include 20,000sqm of commercial floorspace. Additionally, regional projects that do not meet these criteria but are considered important for economic recovery efforts can be referred to the WAPC for approval by the Premier.

Development Applications for these projects will be able to be submitted directly to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage to conduct an assessment and Responsible Authority Report, with the WAPC empowered to seek advice from other state government agencies in considering whether to approve a project.

The WAPC would have this power for 18 months if amending legislation is passed by State Parliament, with similar powers to be transferred to a new Special Powers Development Assessment Panel after that period.

A range of other important reforms are also proposed, aimed at cutting red tape and removing well known bottlenecks in the planning system. Included in this second group of reforms are removing Change of Use application requirements for small businesses, limits to ‘stop-the-clock’ procedures, speeding up minor scheme amendments and standardising community engagement practices across the State.

Homeowners looking to construct patios, decks or similar, low impact structures will no longer require planning approvals from local government, if the reforms are passed.

Property Council WA has highlighted its support of these initiatives to key decision makers and has urged non-government members of parliament to pass these reforms in State Parliament following efficient and considered debate.

Fact sheets and detailed explanations about the reforms at the COVID-19 Planning Reform website here.

Don't miss our first ever WA livestream event as we hear directly from Rita Saffioti to learn more about these reforms.