THE introduction of the second phase of the Western Australian Government's reforms to the state's planning system will result in faster housing approvals and significant savings in the cost and time taken to develop land, Planning Minister John Day announced last week.
Major features of the phase two blueprint for planning reform include the consistent processing of development applications across local governments, changes to the value of the thresholds for Development Assessment Panels and the introduction of an online application system to lodge and track planning applications.
The reforms also support the concurrent amendment of the Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS) and local planning schemes, a focus on quality design in complex urban infill and high-density developments and no planning approvals for R-Code compliant single houses.
Mr Day described the phase one and two planning reforms as the most significant change to the state's planning system since 1963 that will result in a more streamlined planning system and ensure quality outcomes with shorter timeframes and quicker decisions.
"This will be achieved by realigning and simplifying the statutory processes required to re-zone land for housing and economic development at all stages of the planning process," he said.
"For example, the reform will see the MRS and local government planning schemes amended at the same time. A 2004-05 amendment for 1,000 residential lots in Forrestdale took more than three years to complete. Under the reform it will take around a year for the land to be planning-ready for housing - a cut to the time frame by more than half.
"Changes to the Model Scheme Text, the template for local government schemes, will create consistency across all councils. Currently 11 of the 30 metropolitan councils still require planning approval for single houses. A change to the text will ensure all R-Code compliant single houses are now exempt, saving time and money for home owners."
Under the changes to the value of the thresholds for Development Assessment Panels, the opt-in value has been changed to between $2 million to $10 million from the previous range of $3 million to $7 million. The mandatory value has increased from $7 million to $10 million-plus. The City of Perth threshold is now $20 million-plus.
"The new thresholds will enable more people to opt-in or out of the DAP process to provide a greater level of flexibility," the Minister said.
Mr Day said the pace and scale of developments in the State meant that Western Australia requires a planning system that is flexible and responsive to changing community needs.
While some of the phase two reform actions are already under way or can be implemented immediately, others require changes to legislation, statutory planning instruments and policy documents.