Emergency local planning powers enacted in WA, SA

A range of exemptions to local planning requirements have been announced under new state of emergency powers in Western Australia.

Amendments to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 came into effect earlier this month, and give the Minister for Planning, Rita Saffioti, authority to temporarily override requirements and conditions set out in local planning schemes, and existing conditions in planning approvals.

A Notice of Exemption has now been issued providing a blanket two-year extension to be granted for all current development approvals to assist job-creating projects during the recovery stage.

Emergency planning powers have also been enacted in South Australia.

The variations to the Development Act 1993 give the Planning Minister, Stephan Knoll, powers to “call in” development applications from councils “where they cannot be assessed or there are significant delays in their assessment due to Covid-19”.

Other planning changes include:

  • Removing the requirement for the State Government to refer developments it is assessing back to the relevant council for advice;
  • Requiring advice on developments before the government to be provided within 20 business days and requests for more information within five business days;
  • All public meetings relating to development, such as council assessment panels and the government’s development panel, being available online;
  • Making sure all public consultation documents are posted online; and
  • The temporary removal of rules limiting the hours goods can be delivered to shops such as takeaway restaurants, chemists and bottle shops.

The powers would be removed after the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

In related news, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has published an 18-page list of FAQs regarding planning and assessment for councils during Covid-19.