The South West Region of Western Australia is the most populous and the fastest growing outside the Perth and Peel regions with a resident population of 165,985 at the 2011 Census, representing a 22 per cent increase from 2006, and one of the fastest growth rates within Australia. This population is forecast to grow to approximately 230,000 by 2026. The region includes Bunbury, the largest city outside the Perth and Peel regions with a population of about 68,000 in Greater Bunbury. The region stretches from Yarloop in the North to Walpole in the South and Boyup Brook to the west.
There are 12 Local Governments located within three sub-regions:
- Bunbury-Wellington: City of Bunbury and Shires of Capel, Collie, Dardanup, Donnybrook-Balingup and Harvey
- Leeuwin-Naturaliste: City of Busselton and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River
- Warren-Blackwood: Shires of Boyup Brook, Bridgetown-Greenbushes, Manjimup and Nannup.
The South West Region supports a thriving and diverse export-orientated regional economy, worth in excess of $15 billion in 2011/12, and has benefitted from significant economic growth in recent years. Exports include alumina, coal, titanium dioxide, lithium, tantalum and silicon. Other significant local industries include agricultural, forestry, fishing, tourism, retail and construction. Its food and wine, notably the Margaret River wine region, are international renowned and attract overseas visitors. The Port of Bunbury is the port for the region’s bulk products exports and is critical to the region’s economy.
The wider South West Region of Western Australia is recognised as being one of the 35 biodiversity hotspots in the world. There are many National Parks within the Region, including Leeuwin Naturaliste, D’entrecasteaux, Shannon, Wellington, Tuart Forest and Blackwood River.
South West Regional Planning and Infrastructure Framework
The South West Regional Planning and Infrastructure Framework, which was finalised in December 2015, outlines the WAPC position in relation to broad planning issues such as transport, agriculture, communities and climate change, and the major infrastructure requirements for the region.
Greater Bunbury Strategy
The Greater Bunbury Strategy which was finalised in 2013 identifies one primary Urban Expansion Area of 1100 hectares in an area adjacent to the Eaton townsite that in the longer-term will accommodate up to 28,600 new dwellings, a new commercial and service centre incorporating a rail station for the proposed Perth-Bunbury fast train, regional and local sports and recreational facilities; and a 1500 hectare Industrial Expansion Area at Waterloo that could accommodate an inter-modal terminal, an agri-food precinct and the longer-term industrial land supply requirements for Greater Bunbury. District Structure Plans are being produced by the DoP and Shire of Dardanup and are scheduled to be advertised for consultation early in 2016. The Strategy also supports infill in the City of Bunbury and surrounding areas. It also identifies investigation areas for future residential and industrial development.
Other WAPC documents
In addition to the Greater Bunbury Region Scheme, Greater Bunbury Strategy and the South West Regional Planning and Infrastructure Framework the WAPC has published a range of plans, policies and other documents relevant to planning for the South West, including:
- State Planning Policy 2.1 Peel-Harvey Coastal Plain Catchment Policy (1992)
- State Planning Policy 6.1 Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge Policy (2003)
- Greater Bunbury Regional Hotspots Land Supply Update (2015)
- Activity Centres for Greater Bunbury Policy (2012)
- Industry 2030 Greater Bunbury Industrial Land and Port Access Planning
- Busselton Wetlands Conservation Strategy
- Warren-Blackwood Rural Strategy
- Basic Raw Materials – Demand and Supply Study for the Bunbury-Busselton Region (2012)
The Department of Planning's South West office in Bunbury has a statutory planning team responsible for the provision of statutory planning advice and the assessment of Local Planning Schemes, Local Planning Strategies, Scheme Amendments, Structure Plans, Subdivisions and other statutory planning matters relevant to the South West region.
Local Planning Strategies establish the planning framework for each local government, and provide the strategic basis for Local Planning Schemes. Local Planning Schemes contain planning controls that primarily govern land uses, residential densities and development standards.
Local governments in the region are also involved in planning for local communities by administering Local Planning Strategies and Local Planning Schemes to ensure appropriate land use and development controls are applied through the assessment and determination of development applications.
Greater Bunbury Region Scheme
The Greater Bunbury Region Scheme (GBRS) is a region scheme for land use in the Greater Bunbury region, which has been in operation since November 2007. The scheme covers the City of Bunbury and the shires of Capel, Dardanup and Harvey, and provides the legal basis for planning in the Greater Bunbury region. The GBRS defines the future of land use, dividing it into zones and reservations. Local governments provide detailed plans for their part of the region, which must be consistent with the GBRS.
To accommodate the anticipated future growth of population in the Greater Bunbury region it is important to ensure that there is an adequate supply of commercial, residential and industrial land, whilst conserving key environmental features. To plan for changing needs, the Greater Bunbury Region Scheme Map needs to be amended form time to time. Scheme amendment documents can be found in the publications section, and a list of amendments is located here.
The scheme text provides planning rules for zones and reservations, as well as information on Special Control Areas, application procedures and environmental conditions.
There are a number of policies relevant to the GBRS:
- Floodplain management policy
- Strategic agricultural resource policy
- Strategic minerals and basic raw materials resource policy
- Activity centres for Greater Bunbury
The GBRS also provides the statutory framework for the identification and creation of regional parks in the Greater Bunbury region.
Amendments to the GBRS, assessment of development applications and other matters pertaining to the Region Scheme are undertaken by the Bunbury office of the Department of Planning.