The Western Australian Government is seeking feedback on the next phase of reforms to streamline the state’s planning system.
The state has already implemented a series of legislative, regulatory and policy reforms, including consistent community consultation requirements for Local Planning Strategies, scheme amendments and Structure Plans along with a radius model and new on-site signage requirements for complex Development Applications.
The reforms have also established a new approvals pathway for significant developments and changes to the Development Assessment Panel (DAP) system, including improved governance and transparency requirements.
To date, the reforms have seen the number of DAPs reduce from nine to five panels and from next year, the number of DAPs will reduce from five to three and will see the appointment of permanent DAP members for consistent decision making. A Special Matters Development Panel will be created to continue to consider state-significant developments.
Seven proposals have been approved under the new significant development pathway, with another 13 currently under assessment. The approved proposals are expected to create more than 1,600 local jobs and bring more than $220 million in economic activity to Western Australia.
The State Government is currently seeking the views of all Western Australians on measures to further reform the planning system, including reforms in the local government sector that can support changes in the planning system and identify changes to encourage more community participation through improved processes and greater access to information.
Over the next three months, the community, industry and planning professionals will be consulted on a number of proposed reforms to help inform the drafting of legislation.
This consultation will be led by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage Planning Reform team, in consultation with the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, and will be open until late October.
Western Australian Planning Minister, the Hon. Rita Saffioti MLA, shared: “Some of the major reforms we are looking to implement in this tranche include establishing a State referral co-ordination process to allow the co-ordination of State agency, utilities and departmental referrals for significant development applications.”
“Other ideas include investigating an expansion of Government-led structure planning for areas of key strategic importance, further reform of developer contribution plans and establishing a planning portal to provide a single source of information for the public, industry and local government.”
“We also want to hear from the community, industry and planning professionals about their top ideas of what they would like to see changed in the planning system,” the Minister said.
“Our planning reform team will be out listening and engaging over the next three months to understand what works, what needs to be changed and what the community wants from their planning system.”
Property Council WA Executive Director, Sandra Brewer, said reforms to remove red tape will deliver productivity gains which will ultimately lead to faster housing supply and keep a lid on rapidly escalating house prices.
“Initiatives to streamline approvals with State Agencies, utilities and departments will be supported by industry in the consultation. Evidence in other States shows that establishing a State Referral Agency improves confidence in the system and is central to driving sustained economic growth.”
Property Council research shows that inefficient planning systems remain a high hurdle to the delivery of housing.
“As the WA Government looks for solutions to boost housing supply, measures that improve efficiency in planning and ensure a continuous pipeline of supply will be vital to tilting the balance back in favour of homebuyers,” Ms Brewer commented.
“We know that a 12-month delay in project approvals can increase the cost of a development by as much as 4 per cent. These costs ultimately end up impacting homebuyers and housing affordability.”
“Now more than ever, streamlining planning processes will increase efficiency and help generate long-term economic activity, accelerating the contribution of the private sector to our recovery, at no cost to government.”
To be part of the consultation, visit: www.dplh.wa.gov.au/planning-reform