CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 PANDEMICGENERAL PROPERTY

WA fast tracks urgent planning reforms

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THE Western Australian government has urgently brought forward planning reforms to fast track commercial developments of over 20,000 sqm and residential projects with 100 or more dwellings, which will support the state’s COVID-19 economic recovery.

The McGowan government’s reform package includes 26 key reform items, which aims to create a simpler and streamlined 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 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 assess these significant 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; or residential dwelling proposals with 100 or more dwellings; or
  • commercial developments with a minimum 20,000 sqm of commercial floor space; or regional or tourism projects that may not meet the criteria but are considered important to assist in the COVID-19 recovery.

Premier Mark McGowan said the state’s planning system is set for once-in-a-lifetime reform.

“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.

“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,” the premier said.

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said 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,” the minister said.

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