WA planning reforms expedited to boost Covid-19 recovery

Major changes to Western Australia’s planning system, including a new development application process for significant projects for the next 18 months, have been introduced into State Parliament.

Under the proposed changes, the WA Planning Commission will the final arbiter for such projects, defined as:

  • development proposals with an estimated cost of $30 million or more; or
  • residential dwelling proposals with 100 or more dwellings; or
  • commercial developments with a minimum 20,000sqm of commercial floor space; or
  • regional or tourism projects that may not meet the criteria but are considered important to assist in the Covid-19 recovery.

The legislative reforms will be accompanied by changes to planning regulations and State planning policies, and bring forward a reform process that began with the release of a Green Paper for public comment in May 2018.

The reforms were due to be fully implemented by 2022.

According to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, “Most of the proposed amendments are part of the State Government’s Action Plan on Planning Reform and follow three years of consultation to remove barriers in the system, provide greater clarity and consistency for users, and reduce the administrative burden on the State’s 134 local governments”.

In other planning news, the SA Government has announced a series of planning regulation changes to minimise project delays.

Ministerial call-ins of development applications from councils where they cannot be assessed or because assessment has been delayed due to Covid-19 are among the announced changes.