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Report urges planning reforms

THE Western Australian branches of the Property Council of Australia and the Urban Development Institute of Australia have released a planning processes review study outlining more than 70 recommendations to alter the State’s planning approvals process.

The report was prompted by widespread industry frustration with the timeliness of the process for obtaining planning and building approval. 

Property Council WA executive director Joe Lenzo said the report was the first step in the process of practical change, and did not necessarily seek exhaustive legislative reform.

UDIA executive director Marion Fulker said the report’s recommendations were ‘solution focused’, with more than half of them able to be implemented quickly.

The study was monitored by a steering committee that included representatives from the Department of Planning and Infrastructure and the Western Australian Local Government Association. 

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said there were real concerns regarding the allocation of resources and volumes of workload within her department. She attributed some of the frustrations felt by the industry to a chronic shortage of State planners, and indicated that a $1 million State Government grant would be used to employ 15 new planners within her department. 

Ms MacTiernan also flagged a lack of resources and inefficient administration as causing problems within the DPI.

The report proposes both practical administrative and legislative reform, to which the Government has responded positively.

There are, however, several other recommendations that may not meet such receptive ears in government. Among them are: a need for binding and all-encompassing decisions that cannot be overruled by other bodies; the location of troubleshooting resources at a senior level at the DPI; and amendments to local government regulations so that appeal provisions are consistent. 

Despite the range of solutions offered by the report, Ms MacTiernan said competing needs meant there would always be tension between developers and government.

 

 

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