Buyers and developers appeal over process delay

LENGTHY delays in WA’s planning appeals system are hurting developers and costing land buyers.

Months of waiting for a decision from Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan means developers must pay land rates and other charges longer than usual, according to Urban Development Institute Australia (WA) executive director Judy Carr.

These costs push up the price of land, Ms Carr said.

“For each day an appeal is held up, developers incur holding costs, which are then passed on to land buyers through the price,” she said.

“In the case of first homebuyers, the higher price of land may be enough to keep them renting.”

Australian Association of Planning Consultants WA president and Planning Group managing director David Caddy agreed, and urged the minister to push ahead with decisions.

“Obviously these costs are going to be passed on, developers won’t make them up,” Mr Caddy said.

“We have a system in place which, while it has its faults, works quite well … and until that system is changed the minister has a responsibility to work under it.”

Ms MacTiernan last week told Business News that claims of the planning appeals system grinding to a halt were nonsense.

“When I took office there was a backlog of 370 appeals. There are now 344 outstanding and in the past three months I’ve heard 107,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“There are 182 appeals that have been in limbo, some dating back to 1996, where the proponents have not given grounds for their appeal or have asked for them to be put on hold.”

New legislation designed to abolish the ministerial appeals process is likely to be introduced to Parliament within weeks.

But Ms Carr also held concerns that the introduction of a new system at this point could exacerbate the situation.

“By the time the new system gets through Parliament and is put in place, the backlog will be huge,” she said. “We could see appeals in the office that have been sitting there for three months sit there for six months.

“And in the worst case scenario, this could lead to a shortage of land to be developed.”

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