NDUSTRY has praised the state government for attempting to streamline the planning process, but is concerned reform won’t come in time to avert a land supply shortage.
INDUSTRY has praised the state government for attempting to streamline the planning process, but is concerned reform won’t come in time to avert a land supply shortage.
Planning Minister John Day announced the state government would reform its planning agenda last September, and would push for the introduction of Development Assessment Panels to shorten approval times.
Legislation for the panels is currently being pushed through state parliament.
A key issue for industry is that, while government has reported there is land available for development, a lot of that land needs further approval work or lacks the infrastructure to be developed.
Earlier this month, Western Australian Planning Commission chairman Gary Prattley said the commission’s estimate of housing lots available for development in WA was not the widely reported 74,000, but was closer to 35,000.
Cedar Woods managing director Paul Sadleir said it was positive the reform process was under way, but it would take time to make a difference.
Mr Sadleir said it typically took up to five years to get development approval for an unzoned subdivision, but even if the land was zoned urban, approvals could still take up to three to four years before lots can be delivered to market.
“I can’t see that changing in the next 12 months to overcome any land supply issues that we get,” Mr Sadleir said.
“All around Australia an issue we’ve got is dealing with antiquated planning systems, as still a lot of our stuff is done by paper.
“We’re moving in the right direction, slowly, but it’s not reform in just one department that’s going to make the difference.”
Australand WA general manager Richard Fulcher said there was available land to be developed in Perth, but a lack of infrastructure and slow-moving planning processes meant it took too long to get lots on the ground.
“There are reasonably large amounts of land in the Perth metro area that actually could be developed, but the lack of servicing infrastructure is preventing it being developed,” he said.
“The planning is one component, probably the most significant, but the infrastructure issue is there as well.”
Urban Development Institute of Australia WA chief executive Debra Goostrey said the government was trying very hard to alleviate approval blockages in the supply pipeline.
“It’s not to say that this is a magic wand and suddenly everything’s going to be roses, but it is a major step forward, and we’ve already had some conversations about next steps,” she said.
“It is a step-by-step process; you can’t necessarily come in and turn the whole system on its ear, you actually have to do it one step at a time.
“We would like to see better integration of the state and federal environmental approvals process.”
Satterley Property Group managing director Nigel Satterley said the Commonwealth environmental regulations were very strict and oppressive.
“At the last minute, a federal agency comes over the top,” he said.
“You think you’re nearly over the line and then they want you to do a survey for cockatoos or sun moths. It’s an extra cost and it takes time.”
Mr Satterley said he was concerned that if there were no fast action to unblock the approvals process, housing affordability would be at risk.
“If Western Australia isn’t affordable, we won’t benefit from all the good things happening in the Pilbara, because people won’t be able to afford to buy a house and live properly,” he said.
“Housing affordability is a big issue facing us unless we increase supply. The only way we’re going to do that is to get the approvals process happening quicker to create more competition to bring more supply on, and that will steady the price.”