19/09/2013 - 13:30

Developers welcome continued planning reform

19/09/2013 - 13:30

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The state government has unveiled its second phase of planning reforms, with the initiatives being hailed as a positive step forward for the development sector.

Planning Minister John Day released a discussion paper for public comment today, which focuses on streamlining the approvals process, from scheme amendments to structure planning, subdivision and development approvals.

Mr Day initially launched the government's planning reform process in September 2009.

The first phase established a new planning framework for Western Australia, with Development Assessment Panels created to decide on major projects.

The government also introduced scheme amendments to give the planning minister the power to overrule a local government, and a comprehensive review of the state's R-codes system was completed.

One of the key features of the second phase will be ensuring there is no double-handling of the approvals process by local and state government officials.

The reforms also propose to streamline the link between environmental and planning approvals, by removing certain categories of use from the scrutiny of the Environmental Protection Authority.

The R codes system will also be improved to encourage more apartment and granny flat developments, Mr Day said.

Also, the Metropolitan Region Scheme, which has governed planning and approvals for the past 50 years will be reviewed, while the amendment process for the schemes will also be improved.

"The proposed changes will result in significant savings in the cost and time taken to develop land and housing, making it more affordable for people to own their own home," Mr Day said in a statement.

"I encourage stakeholders to provide feedback and ideas on these new reform initiatives."

Urban Development Institute of Australia WA chief executive Debra Goostrey said there was potential for "big wins" for the property sector in the new round of reforms, particularly the focus on removing double-ups in the process.

"This is a pragmatic and commonsense approach," she said.

"Currently we have changes to town planning schemes relating to the developer's financial contribution to local infrastructure requiring EPA consideration.

"This approach gets rid of unnecessary work and delays, letting the EPA focus on matters where there are environmental considerations."

Ms Goostrey said the enforcement of statutory timeframes to reduce approval delays was also a high priority for the industry.

"Today's announcement gets a strong tick of approval from the industry," she said.

"The big question is will the Department of Planning have the resources to implement these vital changes in a timely way."

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