29/03/2012 - 12:48

Labor, UDIA advocate more planning reform

29/03/2012 - 12:48

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The state opposition has aligned itself with the Urban Development Institute of Australia in a pledge to streamline Western Australia’s residential planning and approvals system if successful at next year’s state election.

Labor leader Mark McGowan launched a discussion paper at a UDIA function today, outlining a raft of key recommendations to address industry concerns over “unnecessary bureaucracy”.

The recommendations focus on reducing the regulatory burden in the planning and development industry, making it easier and cheaper to do business in Western Australia, Mr McGowan said.

Key proposals include:

  • Appointing a single housing and planning minister;
  • Fast-tracking government land development;
  • Making more Crown land available through government audits;
  • Streamlining planning legislation to simplify housing approvals;
  • Amend the Building Act to provide deemed approvals; and
  • Encouraging high density development.

“WA Labor is committed to reducing the regulatory burden on business by streamlining inefficient processes which are making it difficult to cater for the needs of a growing state,” Mr McGowan said.

“It is important that housing and land should be affordable to regular Western Australians, higher density developments are common and the development industry is not stifled by unnecessary bureaucracy.”

The UDIA also launched a discussion paper today aimed at streamlining approvals, unveiling its Advocacy Agenda at the industry lunch.

UDIA chief executive Debra Goostrey said the paper identified core priorities the state government has not addressed in its attempts to reform the approvals process.

The state government’s highest profile change to the assessment process occurred in May last year, with the appointment of specialist Development Assessment Panels to rule on development applications between $10 million and $15 million.

Ms Goostrey said both the government and opposition needed to make the implementation of the reform a priority.

“We recognise and commend the Department of Planning for pushing forward but reform has no meaning on the ground unless it is implemented,” Ms Goostrey said.

Ms Goostrey said the UDIA had identified core priorities to improve timelines, but she said the reforms remained “in progress”.

“While reform of structure planning and model subdivision conditions have little meaning to the general public, delays in reforming these areas translates to additional costs for new home buyers,” she said.

“Getting approvals for a development can involve 13 different agencies and sometimes more.

“While the Department of Planning has a core coordination role, we need a whole of government approach to reforming the process.” 

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