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Planning Reform Program

The State Governments has been implementing an ambitious program of reform since 2019.

The Western Australian Government has been implementing an ambitious planning reform agenda since the release of the 2019 Action Plan for Planning Reform to modernise the planning system and assist with the efficient delivery of housing and other critical infrastructure. Delivery is being undertaken through legislative, regulatory and policy reforms, and the development of clear and consistent guidance documents. The priorities for reform were refocussed and expanded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been further refined following State-wide consultation with stakeholders in 2021.

Find out about the Action Plan, COVID-19 reforms and the Phase 2 priorities below.

Action Plan for Planning Reform

The 2019 Action Plan for Planning Reform (Action Plan) is guiding the State Government’s ambitious reform agenda. The Action Plan identifies three fundamental goals guiding the reform of the planning system:

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

To achieve these goals, the Action Plan outlines 19 key reform initiatives.

The Action Plan was prepared in collaboration with a range of stakeholders and users of the planning system. The State Government continues to work collaboratively with the community, private sector, local governments and other state agencies to ensure any changes to the planning system are contemporary and fit-for-purpose.

COVID-19 Reform

In 2020, the delivery of the Action Plan was reprioritised to focus on initiatives that would assist with the State’s economic recovery.

A program of major legislative, regulatory and policy changes were implemented to create a more robust and streamlined planning system, remove barriers to enable development, protect and create jobs, and support business. Many of these changes were enacted through the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2020 and the Planning Regulations Amendment Regulations 2020.

The reforms included:

  • Introducing a new temporary development application pathway for significant, job-creating projects. More information can be found on the Significant Development Pathway webpage
  • Abolishing change of use approvals for a number of different types of small business
  • Exempting a wider range of small residential projects such as patios, decks and extensions from planning approval
  • Abolishing onerous requirements on small businesses to pay cash-in-lieu for parking shortfalls up to 10 bays
  • Improving community consultation by mandating consistent consultation processes across the State

More information on the reform initiatives implemented are detailed below.

Planning and Development Act 2005Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015Planning and Development (Development Assessment Panel) Regulations 2011State Planning Policies

Key Reforms

  • Focus on strategic planning
  • New process for significant projects
  • Reconcile conflicting approval processes
  • Simplify Region Scheme and State Planning Policy processes

Key Reforms

  • Cut red tape
  • Support small business
  • Deliver key planning reforms through local planning frameworks
  • Improve consultation and engagement processes

Key Reforms

  • Improve governance
  • Clarify processes
  • Ongoing ability to deal with significant projects
  • Greater consistency and transparency

Key Reforms

  • Finalise Precinct Design Policy
  • Review of the suite of Residential Design Codes
  • Review the Activity Centre policy
  • Review of Liveable Neighbourhood

 

Phase 2 Priorities

In 2021 a comprehensive, State-wide consultation program was undertaken to seek feedback from all stakeholders on additional reforms and help identify the next priorities for planning reform (Phase 2). More than 1,350 members of the Western Australian general public were engaged with. The feedback provided from a diversity of stakeholders reaffirmed the goals, initiatives and actions of the Action Plan and identified the next key priorities:

  • Improve co-ordination, consistency, and transparency of Developer Contributions, including creation of a dedicated unit in the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage and new State Planning Policy
  • A centralised process for the management of development assessment
  • Referrals to State Government agencies and departments through a State Referral Coordination Unit
  • Centralised preparation and administration of structure plans at the district or regional level where areas are of key strategic importance and/or have fragmented land ownership

    Latest Government Priorities

    The State Government is currently implementing the next tranche of planning reform measures. From 1 March 2024:

    • A permanent pathway will open for business for the assessment of significant development proposals. More information can be found here
    • A reformed Development Assessment Panel (DAP) system comprising three panels, full-time specialist members and changes to eligibility thresholds will take effect

    More information can be found on the significant development pathway and DAP reforms webpage.

    These changes are provided for in the Planning and Development Amendment Act 2023, some remaining parts of the Planning and Development Amendment Act 2020 and a number of new and amended Regulations.

    More information can be found on the  Planning and Development Amendment Act 2023 and Associated Regulations page.

    Reforms to the composition and operation of the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) will come into effect from 1 July 2024. More information can be found on the Review of the Western Australian Planning Commission webpage.

    These reforms continue delivery of the original 2019 Action Plan for Planning Reform and incorporate other initiatives identified through ongoing stakeholder consultation.