18 October 2023

Major planning reforms to accelerate housing delivery in Western Australia

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New planning reforms aim to cut red tape and bolster housing supply in Western Australia. Photo: File.

New planning reforms aimed at boosting housing supply and accelerating decision-making have been introduced into State Parliament.

The reforms aim to further cut unnecessary red tape and bolster housing supply in WA, with the Cook Government claiming it is leading the nation in delivering planning reforms to accelerate construction of homes.

Permanent significant development pathways will be introduced for projects over $20 million in the metropolitan and Peel areas, and over $5 million in regional WA.

“Governments across Australia are facing challenges with housing supply – these significant reforms are a key plank of my government’s response to the current barriers to delivery,” Premier Roger Cook said.

“The reforms focus on five key areas to deliver more homes for Western Australian families as well as the infrastructure required for future generations.

“Western Australia is leading the nation in delivering planning reforms, and the introduction of this comprehensive Bill is an important step towards meeting our commitments under the National Planning Reform Blueprint.

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“These latest reforms complement our record $2.6 billion investment in social housing and homelessness measures, which includes funding to deliver 4000 new social homes.”

Planning Minister John Carey welcomed the move.

“As Planning, Lands, Housing and Homelessness Minister my resolute focus remains – we must do everything we can to accelerate the delivery of housing across all parts of the housing continuum in Western Australia,” he said.

“The Cook Labor Government’s planning reforms will streamline existing processes, cut unnecessary red tape and build efficiencies into existing processes, ensuring that there are no unreasonable impacts on progressing planning and subsequent development of new homes.

“A permanent significant pathway is critical for ensuring that we have clear, and streamlined process for major projects, including housing developments in Western Australia.

“Planning must adapt and change to deal with future market challenges and ensure housing supply for now and into the future.

“Our government will continue to deliver and support reforms to assist WA to meet the housing and density infill developments that it desperately needs to boost housing supply.”

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The Bill proposes five key initiatives to facilitate and accelerate coordinated delivery of housing and other key infrastructure, including:

  1. A new permanent significant development pathway for projects;
  2. Reforms to clarify decision making in local government for single houses;
  3. Reforms to Development Assessment Panels;
  4. Improving existing planning processes to cut unnecessary red tape, including removal of duplicate processes for the subdivision of land, streamlining the review of planning schemes and planning codes; and
  5. Reform of the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC).

The new permanent significant development pathway will be a refined version of the temporary COVID-19 pathway through Part 17 of the Planning & Development Act 2005, with improvements – including a timeframe for determination (120 days) – to make it suitable in a post COVID-19 environment.

It will provide complex proposals of more than $20 million in the Perth and Peel regions and more than $5 million in regional WA with an option for a streamlined, efficient and coordinated assessment.

The reforms to decision making in local government for single houses will mean that most single houses and any associated development, except where heritage is involved, are now mandated to the local government administration for determination. These applications will be determined by technical experts, through the chief executive officer or local government employee, ensuring a more efficient process to speed up the delivery of housing.

This will enable councils to focus on strategic planning for their communities to ensure that local planning frameworks (strategies, schemes and policies) are contemporary and fit for purpose.

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