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Decision-makers in the WA Planning System

State and local government have different roles and responsibilities in planning decisions.

Find out about the Planning and Development Act 2005 and supporting legislation at the Legislation WA website

Planning decisions are made by a range of parties in the Western Australian planning system. Depending on the scale, complexity or impact of the proposal, this can range from the Governor of the State to local governments. However, despite clearly defined roles and responsibilities, the planning system is highly interconnected, and proposals can be considered by both local and State governments before a decision is made.

Who are the decision-makers?

Select the headings below to find out more about the main decision-makers in the WA planning system.

The Governor of Western Australia approves any changes to the Planning and Development Act 2005 (the legislation that controls the planning system) and associated regulations, as well as State planning policies, new region planning schemes and most amendments to existing region planning schemes. For these types of decisions to take effect they need to be published in the Government Gazette, which is known as ‘gazettal’. Decisions made by the Governor are also known as Executive Council.

Further reading

Department of the Premier and Cabinet - Executive Government

The Minister for Planning has overall responsibility for planning in Western Australia and is responsible for State Planning Policies that guide development and land use across the State. The Minister also makes all decisions regarding zoning of land which includes approval to advertise; whether modifications are required to a proposal following advertising; and final approval. The Minister is also able to ‘call in’ certain categories of subdivision and development, which means that the Minister can determine them, and may issue orders to local governments in respect of their planning schemes. 

Further reading

John Carey | Western Australian Government

The Western Australian Planning Commission is the central decision-making body for land use planning in Western Australia. The role and functions of the WAPC are set out in Part 2 of the Act, and are wide-ranging, including providing advice to the Minister, preparing and maintaining a State Planning Strategy, making sure Western Australia has adequate land supply, and providing advice and assistance to any body or person who requests it. The WAPC is supported by the State Government department responsible for land use planning, the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH). The WAPC determines local planning strategies, structure plans, subdivision applications on freehold land and some categories of development. It also makes recommendations to the Minister regarding zoning proposals and any other matters set out in the Act. 

Further reading

Western Australian Planning Commission

As well as their responsibilities under the Local Government Act 1995, local governments assess and/or determine the majority of development applications in Western Australia. The decision-maker may be the Council (elected members) or the decision may be delegated to local government officers, depending on the scale and nature of development. Delegation functions vary between the State’s 137 local governments. 

Local governments are also responsible for preparing a local planning strategy and scheme to both guide and control land use and development. Local governments may also prepare local planning policies to guide Council when making development decisions. The WAPC and local governments are interwoven in many planning processes, and the organisations work together on a daily basis. 

Legislative reference Local Government Act 1995

Development Assessment Panels (DAPs) are independent decision-making bodies and do not form part of the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage or the WAPC. They are made up of members appointed by the State Government, and representatives of the local government/s where the development is proposed.

Under the State Government’s planning reform program, changes to the DAPs system took effect from 1 March 2024. These include:

  • the number of panels is reduced from five to three (Metro inner, Metro outer and regional)
  • fixed-term, full-time specialist DAP members are appointed; there will still be two local government members on each panel, making a total of five members
  • mandatory threshold thresholds are removed, making the system opt-in over $2million 
  • any community housing proponents can opt-in to the pathway

Applicants apply to a DAP through their local government, and DPLH provides committee support services to organise meetings, agendas and minutes.

Legislative reference Part 11A Planning and Development Act 2005, Planning and Development (Development Assessment Panels) Regulations 2011

There are five redevelopment areas in Perth, where urban redevelopment activities are underway. Development WA is the decision-maker for development within redevelopment areas.

Legislative reference Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority Act 2011

Further Reading

Planning & Approvals - DevelopmentWA - Shaping out State's future

Most planning decision-makers delegate low risk decision-making to experienced officers in their organisations. Delegation is typically given to proposals that are consistent with legislation and/or policy, with more complex proposals requiring consideration by Council, WAPC or the Minister. Delegation of decision-making allows routine proposals to be determined efficiently and for more complex matters to be considered by other decision-makers. WAPC instruments of delegation need to be published in the Government Gazette to take effect, and they are then published online.

Sections 16 and 265 Planning and Development Act 2005

Further reading

WAPC Resolutions and Instruments of Delegation