Hon Mark McGowan BA LLB MLA

Hon Mark McGowan BA LLB MLA

Premier; Treasurer; Minister for Public Sector Management; Federal-State Relations

Hon Rita Saffioti BBus MLA

Hon Rita Saffioti BBus MLA

Minister for Transport; Planning; Ports

    Major planning reforms to drive economic recovery

    20/05/2020 9:00 AM
    • Historic planning reforms introduced to help support COVID-19 economic recovery
    • Western Australia's planning system set for once-in-a-lifetime reform
    • Urgent legislation a key initiative of Action Plan for Planning Reform
    • McGowan Government's planning reform package includes 26 key reform items
    • Major job-creating projects to be supported by streamlined assessments
    • Reforms will create a simpler, more transparent planning system

    Major reforms to simplify Western Australia's planning system and boost the State's economic recovery from COVID-19 will be introduced to Parliament today.


    The McGowan Government's planning 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 WA jobs and create new job opportunities.


    A series of amendments to planning legislation and regulations will simplify the planning system, cut red tape and increase support for small business.


    The first initiative, made effective upon the passing of the legislation, would introduce a new development application process for significant, job-creating projects for the next 18 months to provide immediate support for the State's economic recovery.


    In the short-term, the Western Australian Planning Commission will be the decision-maker for such projects, with plans to create a new Special Matters Development Assessment Panel after the 18-month period based on a similar model.


    A significant development would be defined as: 

    • development proposals with an estimated cost of $30 million or more; and
    • incorporate 100 or more dwellings as a residential dwelling proposals with; or
    • include a minimum 20,000sqm of commercial floor space as a commercial development
    • regional or tourism projects that may not meet the criteria but are considered important to assist in the COVID-19 recovery can also be considered a significant project.

    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.


    Further proposed changes in the reforms will provide flexibility for small businesses, improve community engagement requirements and increase the number of exemptions for approval.


    The planning reforms will include initiatives that respond to community and stakeholder feedback, such as:

    • abolish change of use approvals for a number of different types of small business, which is often required by local government to start up or adapt a business;
    • exempt a wider range of small residential projects such as patios, decks and extensions from planning approval;
    • abolish onerous requirements on small businesses to pay cash–in-lieu for parking shortfalls up to 10 bays; and
    • improve community consultation by mandating consistent consultation processes across the State.

    Most 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.


    Further consultation will be undertaken with all stakeholders on proposed regulatory changes which will be introduced as soon as drafting has been completed.


    Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:


    "This type of planning reform has been talked about for decades, it's long overdue.


    "It's once-in-a-lifetime reform that will leave a long lasting legacy for our State, while driving much-needed economic activity in the wake of COVID-19.


    "These reforms will cut red tape, support small businesses, create more jobs and deliver an overall better outcome for our community.


    "The economic impacts of COVID-19 are devastating, we need projects that have investment certainty and are ready for construction and a planning system that lets business do business.


    "This Bill will support projects that shape our communities and provide innovative ways for business to grow and prosper."


    Comments attributed to Planning Minister Rita Saffioti:


    "This package of reform is about providing an immediate platform response to the COVID-19 pandemic and introducing long term improvements to our planning system.


    "Western Australia needs a planning system that promotes smart growth, is robust, contemporary and easy to navigate, and recognises the importance of community engagement early in the planning process.


    "The proposals within this Bill will bring a long-awaited overhaul of the State planning framework. We have a genuine opportunity to remove barriers and red tape for small business, local government and developers and enable them to get back to work.


    "We must also acknowledge the need for more strategic assessment of development proposals that could deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits for the State."

    Comments attributed to Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Planning Minister John Carey MLA:


    "Small business is a big winner through these planning reforms. Too often new small businesses have been hit with long and burdensome planning approval processes to set up a new café or restaurant or business enterprise. Our changes will cut red tape and costs.


    "For the first time, we will introduce visual representation of proposed developments on site, and mandate State wide community consultation processes, which includes a simple radius model for engagement."


    Premier's office - 6552 5000

    Planning Minister's office - 6552 5500