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HIA welcomes bold planning reform agenda

May 25, 2020

Premier Mark McGowan and Planning Minister Rita Saffioti last week unveiled a bold planning agenda including changes for Residential Design Codes and broader exemptions from council planning approval for minor projects.

HIA WA Executive Direct Cath Hart said HIA had been pleased to closely collaborate on the reforms, particularly in regard to simplifying approvals frameworks and processes for residential dwellings.

“Some builders have more work stuck in councils than they do on site - with COVID causing a 50% contraction in WA’s residential building pipeline, getting work approved and on site is more critical than ever to support jobs and the industry,” she said.

“The expansion and simplification of the Residential Design Codes should be prioritised - the residential building industry and their customers face average delays of 75 days as well as associated costs when required to lodge a Development Application for a residential home.

Ms Hart said the proposals to streamline approvals extended not only to larger significant developments being directly assessed by the Planning Commission itself, but includes much-needed local planning exemptions for smaller, uncontroversial residential renovations and works.

“Expanding planning exemptions for residential projects like carports, patios, small renovations and additions is just a common sense approach,” she said.

Ms Hart also welcomed the opportunity for a Special Matters DAP to review more complex proposals for future iconic precincts and locations, along with measures that strengthen transparent community engagement and environmental controls, as well.

“This is a large body of generational planning reform that cuts red tape and supports businesses and trades across the industry,” she said.

The legislation will now need support from the Liberal Opposition to proceed through the Parliament.

The planning reform agenda came as HIA’s updated its Outlook for housing commencements, based on updated migration and unemployment data. 

“Homebuilding starts are forecast to fall 40 per cent from 2018/19 to just 9730 next year,” Ms Hart said.

“With fewer than 10,000 starts in WA, the planning reforms will play an important role in recovery by helping work get through council faster.

“We hope that the proposed reforms receive broad support and can be rapidly progressed.”