Major planning reforms to accelerate housing delivery

  • Major planning reforms to further cut unnecessary red tape and bolster housing supply in WA
  • Cook Government leading the nation in delivering planning reforms to accelerate construction of homes
  • Permanent significant development pathway to be introduced for projects over $20 million in the Metropolitan and Peel areas, and over $5 million in regional WA
  • Improved consistency in decision-making through changes to Development Assessment Panels
  • Cutting unnecessary red tape for single-home approvals

New planning reforms aimed at boosting housing supply and accelerating decision-making will be introduced to State Parliament today.

The reforms are a key pillar of the Cook Government’s plans to boost housing supply to align with plans recently agreed to by National Cabinet.

The Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2023 will enable the delivery of the Cook Government’s priority planning reforms, identified through significant community and industry consultation on planning reform undertaken over the past six years.

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, including:

  • Reduction in the number of panels from five to three (Metro-Inner; Metro-Outer; Regional) to improve consistency in decision-making;
  • Appoint full-time, fixed term specialist members, retain a pool of sessional members and reduce perceptions of conflict of interest;
  • Removal of previous mandatory thresholds of $20 million for the City of Perth and $10 million for the rest of the State, making the DAP system an opt-in pathway for any development proposal over $2 million (including grouped or multi-dwellings but excluding single houses and ancillary structures); and
  • Providing all community housing projects with the ability to opt into the DAP pathway regardless of the size or value of the proposal.

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.

The important role of local governments will continue for all DAP applications, who will perform the initial assessment, consultation and ability to make a recommendation.

Reform of the WAPC will improve efficiency in decision making, streamline membership and clarify its role as an expert advisor and independent decision-making body with the necessary technical expertise.

As stated by Premier Roger Cook:

“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.

“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.

“These latest reforms complement our record $2.6 billion investment in social housing and homelessness measures, which includes funding to deliver 4,000 new social homes.”

As stated by Planning Minister John Carey:

“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.

“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.”

/Public Release. View in full here.