The Approvals and Related Reforms (No. 4) (Planning) Bill 2009 was passed by WA Parliament last week. The new Bill is designed to make WA’s planning process more transparent, consistent and efficient. It will also allow for the introduction of Development Assessment Panels (DAPs), which should begin operating mid next year. According to Planning Minister John Day, other changes to the Planning and Development Act include:
- significant extension of the use of existing strategic instruments such as improvement plans and planning control areas to strengthen State and regional planning throughout the State
- a mechanism for local planning schemes to be updated to implement State Planning Policies
- improving consistency in local planning scheme requirements by enabling the creation of overriding regulations
- enabling the State to collect data on local development decisions in order to monitor the effectiveness of reforms to the approvals process
- amending the existing power under Section 76 of the Act to clarify that the Minister may require a local government to prepare or submit a scheme amendment for approval.
In theory these amendments should bring WA in line with the planning systems of other states, and make the process fairer and easier (although ask the architects involved in Barangaroo and the Windsor Hotel redevelopment if they agree.)