Small home renovation projects and new patios would be exempt from planning approvals in the Western Australian Government’s plan to fast-track economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.
In a move likely to reduce bureaucracy, costs and headaches for home renovators, small residential projects such as patios, decks and extensions would not require planning approvals.
Other changes include improved community consultation, and scrapping requirements for small businesses to pay cash in-lieu for parking shortfalls of up to 10 bays.
The WA Planning Commission would act as the decision maker for significant developments, including residential proposals with 100 or more dwellings and those with an estimated cost of $30 million or more.
Changes will cut red tape and drive economic activity
WA Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said the changes would cut red tape, create local jobs and drive economic activity after the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have worked hard to put together a strong package of planning reforms that will immediately respond to the economic challenges ahead,” Ms Saffioti said.
“As it stands, we have a system that can delay decisions on major projects for years, while small businesses can be hit with thousands of dollars in fees before even opening their doors.
“Western Australia needs a planning system that promotes smart growth; is robust, contemporary and easy to navigate, and recognises the importance of community engagement early in the planning process.”
The state government has brought forward the reforms, which were due to commence in 2022. Planning amendments were passed in the WA Legislative Assembly this week and will now be sent to the Legislative Council for debate.
It is expected the changes would also provide greater clarity and consistency for users and reduce the administrative burden on the state’s 134 local governments.
Industry bodies welcome the reforms
Housing Industry Association WA executive director Cath Hart said the plan to streamline approvals was a welcome one – not only for larger significant developments but also straight-forward residential renovations and works.
“Expanding planning exemptions for residential projects like carports, patios, small renovations and additions is just a common-sense approach,” Ms Hart said.
“This is a large body of generational planning reform that cuts red tape and supports businesses and trades across the industry.
“With WA homebuilding starts forecast to fall 40 per cent from 2018/19 to just 9730 next year, these reforms will play an important role in recovery towards the end of the year.”
Urban Development Institute of Australia WA chief executive Tanya Steinbeck praised the government’s decision to bring forward the reforms.
“This is a really positive outcome for WA, to ensure that development proposals that have an important role to play in rebuilding our economy are treated as a priority,” she said.