FAQs: Planning reform

Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Action Plan for Planning Reform.

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What is the Action Plan for Planning Reform?

The Action Plan outlines the State Government’s vision and agenda to reform the Western Australian planning system.

The Action Plan provides three overarching goals for the planning system:

  • Planning creates great places for people
  • Planning is easier to understand and navigate
  • Planning systems are consistent and efficient.

In 2020, the State Government approved a work plan which included many of the 19 elements from the Action Plan, fast-tracked to support Western Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are now progressing Phase 2 of the reforms, which includes widespread consultation to encourage more public input, suggestions, feedback and ideas for changes to improve the planning system.

 

Why do we need planning reform?

While the Western Australian planning system has supported Perth’s development as a highly liveable city and contributed to the growth of strong regional communities and economies, it has become increasingly more complex, legalistic and unable to respond quickly to changing needs and expectations. 

The Action Plan sought to address these issues and ensure that the planning system is sufficiently flexible and responsive to respond to the challenges of the next phase of the State’s growth.

Key benefits of planning reform include:

  • fit-for-purpose planning tools and processes to support the next phase of Western Australia’s growth
  • a planning system that is easier to understand to enable the community to be more engaged in strategic planning
  • new ways of working that reduce unnecessary red-tape, increase cooperation and create more consistency and efficiency in how the planning system operates.
What are the key benefits of planning reform?

Key benefits of planning reform include:

  • contemporary and efficient planning tools and processes across the State
  • a planning system that is easier to understand and navigate, and encourages the community to be more engaged in strategic planning
  • new ways of working that reduce unnecessary red tape and create more consistency and efficiency in how the planning system operates.
What have we achieved so far?

During 2020, the first phase of planning reform was introduced through the Planning and Development Amendment Act 2020, to create a more flexible, responsive and contemporary planning system to help drive Western Australia’s economic recovery.

Through Phase 1, we have slashed unnecessary red tape and delivered more consistency and transparency across the planning and development sector. We are making it easier to do business across State and local government. And, we have implemented changes to help Western Australian homeowners invest in their future. We are creating great places for people; making planning easier to understand and navigate; and ensuring planning systems are consistent and efficient.

Some of significant reforms delivered so far are:

  • a new assessment pathway for State-significant development proposals through the Western Australian Planning Commission
  • the State Development Assessment Unit to support the WAPC in its new role
  • reduction in the number of Development Assessment Panels from nine to five
  • a new State planning policy for a fairer system for infrastructure contributions
  • new guidelines for development around precincts including METRONET stations
  • online publication of applications and planning documents
  • electronic meeting options to provide more flexibility for public participation
  • new consultation requirements for complex development applications, including sign-on-site, advertising and notification to nearby landowners and residents
  • an increased consultation period for structure plans to 42 days
  • WAPC approval for local planning policy changes that vary the R Codes
  • exemptions from planning approval for certain land uses
  • new provisions for car parking and cash in lieu
  • removing the option for continual extensions of time for referred applications
  • improved transparency by publishing WAPC agendas and minutes online.

For more on what’s been achieved so far, visit the Action Plan implementation page or download the brochure. 

What's next for planning reform?

Phase 2 continues the reform process through a range of proposals which include:

  • Government-led structure planning for key locations with fragmented land ownership
  • better balance in land use, transport and road planning outcomes for key urban roads and highways
  • a more coordinated approach to Government land acquisition for critical community facilities such as schools, hospitals and transport infrastructure
  • reducing the number of Development Assessment Panel to three
  • a new Special Matters DAP to deal with development proposals of State significance.
  • reframing the WAPC as a more flexible and independent board.
  • reduced duplication and conflict in decision-making across State and local government
  • a new State planning policy to guide medium density development
  • greater focus on local planning strategies so all local governments have a clear development vision for their communities
  • introduction of a new Planning Engagement Toolkit
  • new requirements for a plain English, one-page summary of planning scheme amendments
  • an online portal to track planning applications
  • clear and consistent guidance for structure plans, planning schemes and scheme amendments
  • a new, streamlined model for pre-lodgement of development applications
  • defined timeframes and a consistent approach for driveway crossovers
  • reduction in assessment and decision-making red tape
  • a review of advertising timeframes for schemes and local planning strategies.

But does this go far enough? What more could we, and should we be doing? There is always room for bright ideas and big fixes, so we have included an extensive consultation process to ensure there is plenty of opportunity for you to have a say on what you would like to see as part of planning reform.

Planning, people, places – have your say!

Phase 2 consultation is open until 20 August 2021. 

Have your say on our online consultation hub
 

What is the One Planning System?

Government processes can be difficult to navigate, and local governments around the State are often the front door to those systems. This is a unique opportunity to work with local government and identify further reforms that can support our planning reform agenda and improve the consistency of decision-making on planning and development matters, further reduce red tape and make our planning system easier to use. Proposed reforms include:

a new, streamlined pre-lodgement model for development applications that can be progressively implemented for other planning processes such as structure plans, scheme amendments and subdivisions

explore models for a central referral agency to improve consistency of approach and decision-making for development-related matters such as heritage, environment and traffic

introduce State Government-led structure planning for areas of key strategic importance with fragmented land ownership

develop a more coordinated approach to Government land acquisition for major public infrastructure such as schools, hospital and transport

introduce statutory and regulatory amendments to reduce duplication and conflict in decision-making and better balance land use, transport and road planning outcomes for key urban roads and highways

review and reform the assessment and approvals of developer contribution plans to improve consistency of approach across all levels of Government.


Planning, people, places – have your say!

Phase 2 consultation is open until 20 August 2021. 

Have your say on our online consultation hub
 

How is red tape being reduced?

Planning reform Phase 2 includes a review of local government regulations to help identify further opportunities to reduce red tape for users of the planning system, provide greater clarity and consistency across the State and reduce the administrative burden on our local government sector.

Reducing unnecessary red tape through exemptions, deemed to comply checks and consistency of approach across all local governments are reducing costs and impacts on small businesses, homeowners and applicants. Working with the local government sector, we will:

  • introduce a new system to review State planning policies, including new Regulations, making the process less complicated and more efficient
  • explore models to establish a central referral process across government agencies, utilities and departments to improve consistency of approach and decision-making in consideration of related development matters such as heritage, environment and traffic
  • identify opportunities to improve consistency of consultation on development applications
  • define timeframes and establish a consistent, standard approach with local government for crossovers (connecting driveways to the street)
  • reduce red tape in assessment and decision-making for region schemes, structure plans and amendments.

Planning, people, places – have your say!

Phase 2 consultation is open until 20 August 2021. 

Have your say on our online consultation hub
 

How do we achieve better consistency in planning?

A more consistent and strategic planning system will ensure local planning is developed and implemented in consultation with the community and will improve confidence in decision-making on planning and development matters.  

A range of legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives have already been implemented to streamline processes and improve consistency across Western Australia’s planning system. Further proposed reform measures include:

  • opportunities to reduce duplication and conflict in decision-making across State and local government through regulatory and statutory amendments
  • review and reform developer contribution plans to achieve a more consistent approach
  • a new system to review State planning policies, including new Regulations, making the process less complicated and more efficient
  • improved consistency of consultation on development applications
  • new requirements for Plain English, one-page community-focused summaries of proposed local and regional planning scheme amendments
  • clarify use and function of local planning policies through an appropriate lifespan
  • standard manner and form for key planning documents to ensure consistency across all local governments
  • an online planning portal to track applications and facilitate improved community engagement
  • clear and consistent guidance for structure plans, planning schemes and scheme amendments
  • defined timeframes and consistent/standardised approaches for crossovers (connecting driveway to street)
  • improved public information, with clear explanatory materials and greater transparency of decision-making of the Development Assessment Panel (DAP) process.

Planning, people, places – have your say!

Phase 2 consultation is open until 20 August 2021. 

Have your say on our online consultation hub
 

How can I have my say?

Planning, people, places – have you say!

Whether you are renovating or building a new house, taking on a development of any size, or thinking about the shape of your community, town or city – the planning system affects you.

As implementation of the Action Plan for Planning Reform continues, it is timely to seek feedback and ensure we consider any further changes that can be incorporated in our reform program to create a contemporary and robust planning system for Western Australia.  

Have your say on our online consultation hub

Consultation is open until August 2021. 

The Reform Delivery Team is also engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to generate, test and evaluate ideas and provide input and feedback at key milestones, including:

  • Local government
  • Industry
  • Land and business owners
  • State government agencies
     
How will my feedback be used?

Your feedback will inform the final reform measures and help create a flexible, understandable and contemporary planning system for Western Australia. Feedback will assist in the drafting of a second round of legislative amendments to the Planning and Development Act 2005 to be considered by Parliament, and further changes to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015
 

What is next for Development Assessment Panels?

Reforms to improve the Development Assessment Panel (DAP) system are a priority to ensure their processes more consistent and transparent, and outcomes-focussed.

The number of panels was reduced from nine to five in 2020 along with further process changes to improve transparency. Amendments to the Planning and Development (Development Assessment Panels) Regulations 2011 aim to:

  • further reduce panels from five to three
  • appoint permanent panel members.
  • improve public information, with greater transparency of decision-making in the DAP process
  • establish a new Special Matters Development Assessment Panel for complex proposals such as those located in areas with significant tourism, unique aesthetic qualities or other unique features.

Draft Regulations for the changes proposed to the DAP system will be available for consultation in the coming months at https://consultation.dplh.wa.gov.au
 

Planning, people, places – have your say!

Phase 2 consultation is open until 20 August 2021. 

Have your say on our online consultation hub
 

Does the release of the Action Plan affect my current planning application/proposal?

No. There are no immediate changes to the planning system arising from release of the Action Plan. Planning proposals will continue to be progressed in accordance with current legislative requirements. 
 

How will changes to the planning system take place?

As the detail of the reform initiatives is prepared, new practices and requirements will be progressively implemented, and the need for and nature of transitional measures will be considered. Where necessary and appropriate, transitional measures will be communicated to affected stakeholders and supporting documentation and training will be provided.
 

Who can I contact for more information?

For more information, email the Reform Delivery Team at planningreform@dplh.wa.gov.au or call (08) 6551 8002.

Page last reviewed 28 May 2021
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