Taylor Burrell Barnett

TBB Reacts: Phase 2 Planning Reform Announcement


Katherine Shirley

29 Sep 2022

Last week’s Phase 2 Planning Reform announcement by the State Government is much welcomed news to the planning and development industry, which continues to recover from the downturn in the economy.

Planning reform is seen as a vital step by the State Government to elevate the importance of consistency and efficiency across the planning system and support the viability of the property and housing market.

In support of this, the State Government has announced new phase two initiatives following a period of public consultation. Broadly speaking, these include:

  • A consistent approach to the co-ordination and operation of development contributions overseen by a dedicated unit in the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC).
  • A central referral process for all state government agencies administered by a State Referral Coordination Unit to improve consistency in consideration of relevant development matters.
  • Centralised preparation of district and regional level structure plans, including the finalisation of decisions on 13 out of the 15 Planning Investigation Areas (PIAs) identified as part of Perth and Peel @ 3.5 million.

Consistent approach to development contributions

Further supporting land affordability, consistency and transparency within the planning system, the oversight of administration of development contributions will now occur under the WAPC, with strong support from a dedicated team at the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH). The recent review of State Planning Policy 3.6 – Infrastructure Contributions (SPP 3.6) had a strong emphasis on improving the transparency and administration of Development Contribution Plans (DCPs) particularly given the complexity of some schemes and escalation in scheme costs. We greatly support this initiative for the WAPC to oversee the operation of DCPs in order to achieve the objectives of the policy framework and ensure that local governments provide infrastructure that is representative of the community and not to the detriment of housing affordability.

We support the WAPC taking greater oversight in the operation of DCPs

Centralised referral process

Another key area of reform includes a centralised management and referrals process for the assessment of complex planning applications whereby technical advice is required from State and Local Government agencies. This initiative builds upon the success of the system put in place for the State Development Assessment Unit, and will be implemented for other areas of the planning system.  Implementing this system will be essential in improving the often-convoluted planning system and sustaining growth in the property market.

Implementing a centralised referral process will be essential in improving the often-convoluted planning system

Finalisation of Planning Investigation Areas

There was a clear push from the development industry for the WAPC to provide direction on the Planning Investigation Areas (PIAs). The long-awaited review has resulted in 13 out of the original 15 PIAs being confirmed, with some of the more significant being the North Ballajura (Hepburn Avenue - West), Maida Vale, East of Kwinana and Pinjarra Ravenswood PIAs. This will see the unlocking of undeveloped land in both infill and outer growth areas of the Perth and Peel region and assist in addressing land supply issues. These areas represent large expanses of private and Government-owned land deemed suitable for future residential and other urban uses. It is noted, however, that the four year implementation timeframe will be a challenge in the face of construction supply issues and rising interest rates.

Alike the reform to centralise the preparation of district and regional level structure plans, we are hopeful that the WAPC will provide a more proactive role in ensuring that further investigations confirm the suitability of these areas to accommodate the future land use outcome.

The four year implementation timeframe for pia's will be a challenge in the face of construction supply issues and rising interest rates

These new initiatives are among a long list of other planning reform initiatives designed to create an efficient and contemporary planning system which are currently being investigated by the WAPC. . Other valuable Phase 2 projects which were discussed by the Chairman of the WAPC at the recent PIA State Conference include preparation of Local Planning Scheme Guidelines in early 2023, release of the Medium Density Residential Design Codes later this year, review of submissions on the Draft Position Statement: Planning for Tourism and guidelines / Short-term rental accommodation registration scheme and State budget commitments to support Westport.

TBB will continue to provide input into the Planning Reform process through our involvement in various Stakeholder Reference Groups aimed at ensuring consistency in, and streamlining of, various facets of the planning process, namely consistency in Local Planning Schemes, discretionary decision making and the new DPLH planning application lodgement system.

We commend the State Government for their call to action from industry stakeholders and the community in continuing to assist projects to reach the ground and assist the industry which is still operating within a challenging economic environment.

Read the media release on the latest planning reforms here


Katherine Shirley