Talk about planning reforms essential

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Residents are being invited to put aside their reluctance to take part in planning matters and to have their say on modernising the state’s complex system.

IT is said people only engage with the planning system to react to a development proposal in their neighbourhood, rather than contributing to the future form of their community.

Now in a bid to modernise the state’s complex planning system the McGowan Government has released a Green Paper and is encouraging residents to have their say.

The Green Paper said many local governments had allowed their local planning strategies to become outdated with little connection between the strategy and the local planning scheme.

“As a result, the local government and community direct their time and effort in debating individual proposals for development,’’ The Green Paper said.

“This effort is better invested in maintaining a strategic plan against which individual projects can be understood and assessed.’’

One of the key reform proposals in the Green Paper includes re-balancing development assessment panel processes including recording meetings, providing reasons for decisions and undertaking more comprehensive investigation and consideration of complex proposals.

Other key reform proposals include local governments to report annually on their planning responsibilities, the state government, WAPC and local government to collaborate on the planning and delivery of key centres and infill locations and forward planning of infrastructure.

Others are to develop a state planning policy focused on delivering consolidated and connected smart growth and to provide for coordinated land use and transport planning of key urban corridors.

Property Council of Australia WA executive director Lino Iacomella said WA had some challenges in reforming the state economy to create jobs of the future and the changes had the potential to make WA’s planning system more accepting of innovation in housing and employment precincts.

“The proposals that will have the most positive impact are making local governments more accountable for their planning performance, standardising local planning schemes, stricter time-limits on planning approval processes, tighter rules on local government use of accumulated development levies, more state direction and targets for the location and delivery of infill housing and density by local governments and more up-front consultation with communities by local governments about their planning strategies.

City of Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts said the city’s administration was in the process of analysing the proposed changes in the Green Paper.

“A report outlining a recommended city response, will be presented to the council in due course,’’ she said.

Housing Industry Association WA executive director John Gelavis said modernising the state’s planning system was a critical piece in the housing affordability puzzle.

Mr Gelavis clear and transparent approval pathways were needed to deliver diverse housing types across existing suburbs.

“Development approvals need to be delivered within statutory timeframes, a process that can be made simpler by developing clear state planning policies that are supported with education of decision makers and industry,’’ he said.

“The Green Paper allows the community to have an open discussion on these matters and HIA supports its release.’’

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said she initiated the planning system review as she believed there were some changes that could be made to ensure the system met the needs of a rapidly changing state.

“This paper acknowledges that whilst the planning system has supported the growth of the state, it has become complex and difficult to understand,’’ she said.

“The state needs a contemporary planning system that attracts investment in the smart growth of our towns and cities and facilitates the delivery of projects such as Metronet, delivers housing choice and enhances our built and natural environments.

“The government will now consider the recommendations made in the Green Paper.

“We want to hear your views and encourage you to provide your feedback on the ideas and proposals.”

For more information and to provide feedback visit http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/planningreform

Submissions close on Friday, July 20.