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How does planning work?

Good planning decisions boost housing supply and choice, support the economy, the environment and the people of Western Australia.

What is planning? — an introduction to planning in Western Australia

Town planning, or urban and regional planning, coordinates land use and development by balancing economic, social and environmental issues. Planning legislation, policy and statutory processes guide decisions that shape communities and provide quality of life for people living in those communities.

There are two key components of planning in the 21st century:

  • Strategic planning, which focuses on the big picture and on setting a framework for future development of towns and regions in Western Australia, to effectively guide land supply, land use, and urban and regional development.
  • Statutory planning, which is guided by legislation and concerns the day-to-day decision making by the various responsible authorities on planning schemes, subdivision and development proposals.
Step through the topics below to find out how planning decisions are made and how local and State governments work together to facilitate planning application pathways and processes.
What drives planning?

The goal of planning is to ensure that development and the use of land meets the needs of all Western Australians. This supports housing delivery, our economy, the environment and the people that live, work and play in Western Australia. Planning needs to consider:

  • As our population grows, where will people live and work?
  • How do people get to their jobs?
  • Is there enough land for businesses, agriculture and industry?
  • How will land get water, power and wastewater services (and are there alternatives)?
  • How can we maintain and enhance the environment, and support ongoing ecological functions?
  • How can we protect ourselves from bushfire, flooding and climate change?

The planning system is interconnected, and decision-makers are supported by professional urban and regional planners who work for local government, private consultancies and the WAPC, through the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH). While there are different decision-makers in the system, parties provide advice and recommendations to an ultimate decision-maker, which typically involves public consultation and referral to expert organisations. Decision-makers are then required to consider the applicable planning instruments, the merits of the proposal, advice received, and submissions made. Many planning decisions are also subject to review, where an applicant disagrees with a decision. Some elements of land use planning apply across the whole system.

Planning instruments used across the planning system

The WA planning framework has a range of planning instruments that are used to plan for the future and guide the use and development of land.

Scroll across to view all planning instruments and visit the Planning instruments used across the WA Planning System page to find out how they guide the planning of our state.

Legislation and Regulation

  • Planning and Development Act 2005
  • Planning and Development (Schemes) Regulations
  • Planning and Development Regulations
  • Planning and Development (DAPS) Regulations
  • Swan Valley Act

State Planning Strategy and WAPC policies

  • State Planning Strategy
  • State Planning Policies
  • WAPC operational policies and guidelines

Strategic Planning and Regulation

  • Regional strategies
  • Sub-regional strategies
  • District structure planning
  • Population forecasting
  • Lot activity
  • Urban Growth Monitor
  • Regional Land Supply Assessments
  • Other planning research and investigation

Region Schemes

  • Metropolitan, Peel and Greater Bunbury Region Schemes

Local Planning Strategies and Schemes

  • Local Planning Strategies
  • Local Planning Schemes
  • Local Planning Scheme amendments
  • Report of Review
  • Local Planning policies
  • Heritage lists (under a scheme)
  • Local Development Plans

Structure Plans and Precinct Plans

  • Structure Plans
  • Precinct Structure Plans

Subdivision, including strata titles

  • Subdivision of freehold land
  • Application for titles
  • Amended plans
  • Strata titles

Local Development Plans and Development applications

  • State significant pathway
  • Development Assessment Panels
  • Development under a Region Scheme
  • Development under a local planning scheme
  • Development under an Improvement Scheme
  • Development under the Swan Valley Scheme
  • Development under a Planning Control Area