Draft State Planning Policy 4.2 - Activity centres
The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) sought comment on the new draft State Planning Policy 4.2 - Activity centres.
What are Activity Centres? What are the different types of centres?
Activity centres are multi-functional community focal points that vary in size and function. They are generally well-serviced by transport networks with a focus on integrated pedestrian access and walkability, and may include land uses such as commercial, retail, food and hospitality, higher-density housing, entertainment, tourism, civic/community facilities, higher education, and medical services.
Activity centres for Perth and Peel
What aspects of planning does the revised policy cover?
Activity centres are categorised under seven classifications within the activity centre hierarchy.
- Capital City
- Strategic Centre
- Secondary Centres
- District Centres
- Specialised Centres
- Neighbourhood Centres and
- Local Centres.
The typical attributes of each activity centre can be found within Appendix 1 of SPP 4.2.
Why has the policy been reviewed?
Activity Centre Hierarchy – sets out the hierarchy and high-level function of activity centres in the Metropolitan (Perth), Peel and Bunbury regions.
Land uses – encourages the development of multi-functional activity centres with a wide range of different land uses and higher-density housing.
Employment – encourages employment-generating activities in activity centres and improved access to jobs for local communities.
Urban form – activity centres should be defined by pedestrian-dominated streetscapes and a compact urban form.
Movement and access – promotes a balanced movement network that prioritises walking, cycling and public transport over private vehicles, and supports better management of parking in activity centres.
Major and out-of-centre development – provides guidance and a methodology for assessing the impact and benefits of major development within and outside designated activity centres.
What are the main differences between the draft and existing policies?
SPP 4.2 aims to ensure planning and development adequately considers the distribution, function and broad land use options of activity centres.
It has been reviewed to address concerns by some stakeholders about implementation issues and to ensure the policy remains contemporary and responsive.
Are activity centre plans still required?
The draft policy is more aligned with current State Planning Policies, particularly the Design WA policy suite. The Model Centre Framework at Appendix 2 of the current policy is to be replaced with the SPP 7.2 Precinct Design and Guidelines which is currently under development (2020).
The draft policy also expands the scope outside Perth and Peel to the Greater Bunbury region and provides guidance on retail planning and assessment.
How does the draft policy relate to Design WA?
Under draft SPP 7.2 Precinct Design, activity centres are a type of precinct, so activity centre plans will be replaced by precinct structure plans which must be prepared for strategic, secondary, district and specialised centres in accordance with the requirements of SPP 7.2 Precinct Design and Precinct Design Guidelines.
Just like activity centre plans, a precinct structure plan for an activity centre will outline land use, density and development, access arrangements, infrastructure, environmental assets and community facilities to facilitate future subdivision and development.
How does the draft policy relate to planning reforms?
As part of its review, the draft policy has been aligned with Stage Two – SPP 7.2 Precinct Design and State Planning Policy 7.1 Neighbourhood Design (previously Liveable Neighbourhoods).
It provides guidance on the identification, distribution, function and broad land use considerations for activity centres at the strategic level, while SPP 7.1 and SPP 7.2 provide guidance on the location, distribution and design of activity centres at the structure plan level. The Design WA policies effectively replace the Model Centre Framework in the 2010 gazetted version of SPP 4.2.
Are Needs Assessments still required?
The review of SPP 4.2 is a key part of the legislative and planning reform agenda to create a more flexible, responsive and contemporary planning system.
The draft policy will provide clear guidance to deliver contemporary outcomes when planning major centres with a mix of uses including retail, commercial and mixed-use developments.
Are Retail Sustainability Assessments still required?
Yes. A Needs Assessment may be prepared in support of a Local Planning Strategy, Local Planning Scheme/Scheme Amendment, Precinct Structure Plan and standard Structure Plan at the district or local level.
A Needs Assessment should be prepared where a major development is proposed for an activity centre.
Yes. If a major development is proposed, the applicant is required to provide an Impact Test (previously known as a ‘Retail Sustainability Assessment’), prepared in accordance with the Implementation Guidelines (refer to Section 5).
The Impact Test ensures that major development proposals align with the objectives of SPP 4.2.