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Planning and development amendment bill 2020

May 20, 2020

On 20 May 2020, the WA Government tabled the Planning and Development Amendment Bill in Parliament, being the first of two phases of amendments to the Planning system in WA.

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Planning and Development Act, the Environmental Protection Act and the Community Titles Act to implement a range of planning reforms with most immediate impact on the planning framework, as a prioritised COVID-related response to approvals needed for building works within WA.

Some of the key changes that may affect the industry and sought to be introduced through the Bill include;

  • Two-year extension for all subdivision applications, having been submitted (but not approved) or approved (but not lapsed) before the State of emergency came into effect on 16 March 2020.
  • Facilitating ‘significant development’ projects, valued over $30 million, more than 100 dwellings or greater than 20,000m² NLA, being assessed directly by the Western Australian Planning Commission, with due regard for Local Planning Policies.
    An 18 month sunset clause is built-in to the legislation for this process and no extensions of time will be given to those projects assessed during this period, to avoid development-banking and prioritise shovel-ready projects.
    Smaller regional or tourism developments can be called in to be assessed in the same manner, if deemed appropriate.
  • Removing regulatory road blocks and significantly reduce red tape, by removing the blanket need for all region scheme amendments to be referred to the EPA whether warranted or not and the EPA and DPLH deciding which approvals require referral – along with introducing ‘complex’, ‘standard’ and ‘basic’ amendment streams for assessment. This process also allows the Commission to grant approvals with information such as management plans outstanding.
  • Strategically refocus what urban and regional planning considers important, requiring drafting of State Planning Policies (SPPs) to explicitly consider bushfire planning, coastal erosion and other existing hazards.
    This section also looks to divide the Residential Design Codes (and other policies) away from SPPs, by reclassifying them under a new category of ‘Planning Codes’. This may have further implications for review and modifications of the R Codes.
  • Enhancing how development contribution funds are utilised for community benefit by clarifying what is considered “community infrastructure”, and clarifying the mechanism for the current challenging ability to recover and expend development contributions for such.
  • Providing for a more robust planning environment with a higher degree of professionalism and enforcement capability, in part by merging a number of Joint Development Assessment Panels (JDAPs) onto four district DAPs (Inner Metro, Outer Metro and Regional, with the City of Perth Local DAP remaining). A Special Matters DAP will also be formed as a better resourced and highly technical decision-maker for strategic precincts and key developments if the project, plan or area is of State or significant importance.
  • Implement a comprehensive series of public, stakeholder and specialist reviews of the planning system, which includes a number of finalisations of design benchmarks and policy for medium density, precinct design, single house development requirements of the R-Codes (Volume 1), reviews of State planning policies for activity centres and liveable neighbourhoods.

As developments arise within this first phase, and as the second phase frameworks become more apparent, HIA will continue to keep members up to date as more industry-relevant matters progress.

For further clarification and information on planning requirements, HIA members can contact HIA’s Planning Services team on 9492 9200 or