The reforms include the outcomes of a long-awaited review of the Commission’s functions and its Board. We consider that the review of the functions appears more streamlined and fit-for-purpose, and more strongly aligning with the other reforms that are being undertaken
The reforms also add emphasis to the Commission’s role as the State’s leading body for land use planning and also for providing leadership to local governments, public authorities and other bodies. The role is clarified further to promote the “integrated and sustainable development of land in the State”, which previously was not as clearly stated in the original legislation.
The functions of the Commission are updated particularly in preparing and maintaining State planning instruments with added emphasis on “guidance for public authorities and local governments”. Whilst the functions expand and align to actual planning instruments that are used (including planning codes, interim development orders and planning control areas as specifically mentioned functions), we consider the emphasis is welcome given it applies additional clarity of focus on coordination for integration and sustainable development. We anticipate that such coordination will transfer into decision-making as well as the preparation and maintenance of the regional planning strategies, state planning policies, planning codes, and region scheme.
Overall, we consider that the reforms to the WAPC board and the WAPC functions work well with the Government announcements to improve the efficiency, consistency, and effectiveness of planning, coordination, and decision-making.
The functions provide for the development, maintenance and managing of WAPC-held land (where the Act previously only made mention of “reserved land”). This appears to reflect the contemporary nature of the WAPC’s landholdings, which may include zoned land as well.
As previously announced the reforms change the WAPC board membership from 16, to 7-9 members that are appointed by the Minister with knowledge, expertise and experience in:
- Urban and regional planning;
- Subdivision of land;
- Property development;
- Planning and management of infrastructure;
- Economic, social and environmental policy (used to be environmental conservation, natural resource management or heritage interests);
- Public sector governance and administration;
- At least one member is a LGA councilor or employee (used to be 1 of 4 nominees from WALGA for metro LGAs); and
- At least one member has extensive experience of living and working in regions other than Perth or the region referred to in item 6 of schedule 4. (used to be 1 of 4 nominees of WALGA for non-metro LGAs).
We understand that representatives of public sector bodies are not represented on the Board, and the reforms remove associate members. The Board may invite representatives of public sector bodies to participate in meetings, but they cannot vote or do anything binding on the board.