The McGowan Government’s historic planning reforms, which will bring a once-in-a-lifetime change to the current planning system, have passed through State Parliament.

The majority of these reforms are the culmination of three years of extensive consultation, which are now being urgently brought forward to support the wider economic response to the pandemic, protect Western Australian jobs and create new job opportunities.

Now that the legislation has been passed, a new development application process will be immediately introduced to support significant, job-creating projects for the next 18 months to provide immediate support for the State’s economic recovery.

As part of negotiations with minor parties, a number of changes have been made to the original legislation including the definition of a significant development.

A significant development will now be defined as:

  • development proposals with an estimated cost of $20 million or more in the metropolitan region;
  • development proposals with an estimated cost of $5 million in areas outside the metropolitan or region (excludes warehouses)
  • This model will ensure that large and complex developments receive a State co-ordinated approach with referral agencies and streamlined assessment processes to ensure job-creating projects can start as soon as possible.

The legislative reforms will be supported by changes to planning regulations and State planning policies, and add to the launch of Design WA policies last year which prioritise the importance of good design in planning and development.

The McGowan Government is continuing to engage with local government on the reforms with the Western Australian Local Government Association invited to nominate members for three reference groups to shape specific regulation reform measures.

More than 25 proposed amendments to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 have been identified which relate to local planning frameworks - including planning schemes and policies - structure and precinct planning and development applications processes and consultation.

The majority of the proposed amendments are part of the State Government’s Action Plan on Planning Reform and follow three years of consultation to remove barriers in the planning system, provide greater clarity and consistency for users of the system and reduce the administrative burden on the State’s 139 local governments.

To assist with the assessment of development applications through the new “significant development’ pathway a new team is being established within the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage to support the Western Australian Planning Commission with its temporary decision-making role.

Contact our planning team for more information about how these reforms relate to your project.

Nicholas Temov
Principal, Planning & Urban Design