Action Plan for Planning Reform

The State Government is making historic changes to Western Australia’s planning system.
Last updated: 29 March 2023

Work is well underway to deliver reform initiatives identified in the 2019 Action Plan for Planning Reform.

The Action Plan identifies three goals for reform of the planning system and 19 reform initiatives to achieve the vision for creating a contemporary planning system that leads and enables well-designed and innovative land-use and development solutions to respond to changing needs and expectations.

The proposed reforms will remove barriers to enable development, create and protect jobs and support business.

They will create a planning system that is:

  • more consistent across the State, yet maintains flexibility where required
  • consistent and efficient, through greater coordination across Government and improved approvals processes
  • easier to understand and navigate, making clearer information more easily available
  • supports the opportunities presented through METRONET, city-changing and major infrastructure projects
  • creates great places for people, with updated policies for medium density development and liveable neighbourhoods.

The Department will collaborate with stakeholders and users of the planning system to develop and implement the reform initiatives to deliver the Action Plan.

Proposed reforms and implementation

In addition to delivering initiatives from the 2019 Action Plan for Planning Reform, the Government is introducing new reforms in response to requests from industry and community consultation. These initiatives include:

  • Improved coordination, consistency, and transparency of Developer Contributions, including creation of a dedicated unit within the Department.
  • Centralised Developer Contribution policy to improve consistency and coordination of infrastructure delivery.
  • A centralised process for the management of development assessment referrals to State Government agencies and departments through a State Referral Coordination Unit.
  • Centralised preparation and administration of structure plans at the district or regional level where areas are of key strategic importance and/or have fragmented land ownership.

Planning creates great places for people

Collaborative planning delivers district-level priorities
Current status

A draft framework and principles are being finalised to guide a collaborative process for district-level planning.

The State Government partnered with one regional and one metropolitan local government pilot project which have now been completed.

Urban corridors are realised with integrated planning
Current status

An interagency steering group, including representatives from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, Department of Transport, Main Roads WA and the Public Transport Authority are working to develop a new Movement and Place Framework for Western Australia.

A Director, Road Access and Planning has been appointed within Main Roads WA to support greater coordination between planning, road use and access for priority arterial roads and highways.

Land use and infrastructure planning is coordinated 
Current status

A new role of Director, Road Access and Planning was appointed within Main Roads WA in late 2019.

A working group focused on connected and consolidated growth has been established to help shape and refine some elements of this reform initiative.

After extensive consultation with the community, local government and industry, the revised State Planning Policy 3.6 – Infrastructure Contributions was gazetted in April 2021.

Good design is required and design excellence encouraged
The new State Planning Policy 7.2 – Precinct Design to guide development around precincts including METRONET stations became operational in February 2021.

An update to the Residential Design Codes (R-Codes) Volume 1 now includes provisions for medium density development. The update is the culmination of more than three years of research, consultation and testing to establish settings that support improved tree canopy, housing diversity and energy performance in medium density housing while improving efficiency in the planning process. 

For more information visit State Planning Policy 7.3 Residential Design Codes Volume 1 (Medium Density)

A review and update of Liveable Neighbourhoods (draft State Planning Policy 7.1 – Neighbourhood Design) is now underway, with further consultation and engagement with stakeholders to be undertaken as part of the policy review process.

Visit the Design WA pages for more information about the program and projects.

Planning is easier to understand and navigate

Planning is strategically-led 
Current activity:

The WAPC is undertaking a review of the state-wide strategic and policy framework to rationalise policies, address overlaps and ensure policy remains aligned with contemporary planning practice.

Clear guidance has been developed to support Councils in preparing local planning strategies. 

Of the 28 existing State Planning Policies, 10 are under active review, with a further eight at various stages of consideration and investigation. Six water-related policies are currently being consolidated into a single State Planning Policy. 

DPLH/WAPC is also developing options for ‘risk-based’ assessment and decision-making streams for basic amendments and limited scope reviews of State Planning Policies for trial. 

Engagement and consultation processes are consistent and effective

  • Pilot community project to ascertain community attitudes on urban consolidation and infill development completed December 2019
  • Online publication of development applications and planning documents introduced
  • New consultation requirements for complex development applications, including sign on site, advertising and notification to nearby landowners and residents
  • Consultation period for structure plans increased to 42 days
  • Guide to Best Practice Planning Engagement published.

Local planning frameworks are more legible
Current status

Changes to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015, apply more rigour for changes to local planning policies, including requiring WAPC approval for policy changes that vary the Residential Design Codes.

Online planning portal improves access to information
Current status

Some early planning and scoping work has been completed however work towards this initiative is not scheduled to materially commence until some of the early actions are completed.

Clear and concise guidance is readily available
Current status

Clear and consistent guidance has been developed for local planning strategies and precinct structure plans. A review of the Structure Plan Framework is currently underway to provide contemporary, clear and consistent guidance for preparing and assessing precinct and standard structure plans (and amendments).

Improved guidance has been developed to support decision-makers, and assessors with using and applying discretion on development applications under Local Planning Schemes. This guidance, along with recommended regulatory changes, are currently out for comment. For more information, visit the Use and Application of Discretion webpage

A Guide to Best Practice Planning Engagement has been published.

Planning systems are consistent and efficient

Local planning schemes are more consistent
Current status

Legislative amendments and supporting changes to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 have introduced model text, templates and forms for every local planning scheme in the State.

The next phase of reforms will consider a reduction in the number of land use classifications across local planning schemes, a consistent approach to land use permissibility in appropriate zones, a suite of consistent car parking requirements for appropriate zones and refinements to general discretionary clauses.

Approvals are quicker and easier for small business in commercial and mixed-use centres
Current status

Exemptions from planning approval have been introduced for certain land uses in commercial and mixed-use areas. Such proposals can now progress straight to building approval.

Car parking requirements in commercial and mixed-use centres are consistent
Current status

New provisions for car parking exemptions, shortfalls and cash in lieu came into effect in July 2021.

Interim guidance has been developed to provide consistent car parking requirements for non-residential land uses in Perth and Peel, to support any immediate local government review of car parking rates under their respective local planning frameworks.

Consultation on the draft guidance is now open. For more information visit Consultation Hub.

Pre-lodgement advice facilitates better outcomes
Current activity

A pre-lodgement process is in place as part of the temporary assessment pathway for significant development applications to be determined by WAPC.

Building on the success of the temporary significant development pathway, a new, streamlined pre-lodgement model will be scoped an implemented for development applications. 

Once established, a similar pre-lodgement model will be progressively implemented for other planning processes such as structure plans, scheme amendments and subdivisions.

Targeted reduction in timeframes for lower risk proposals
Current activity

Legislative amendments and supporting changes to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 have introduced Exemptions from planning approval for simple residential proposals.  Such proposals can now progress straight to building approval.

The Department is identifying opportunities to trial and formalise streamlined processing of minor amendments to structure plans and activity centre plans (now known as precinct plans under State Planning Policy 7.2 – Precinct Design).

Referral processes are well defined and coordinated
Current activity

Limit to extensions of time have been introduced for referred applications. 

The ability to centrally coordinate referrals for significant and complex development applications through the special COVID-19 assessment pathway has delivered key benefits for both Government and applicants and should be expanded to centralise responsibility for referral and follow-up. 

Explore models to establish a central referral process across government agencies, utilities and departments to improve consistency of approach and decision-making in consideration of related development matters such as heritage, environment and traffic.

Structure and precinct planning tools are fit-for-purpose 
Current activity

The new State Planning Policy 7.2 – Precinct Design to guide development around precincts including METRONET stations became operational in February 2021.

Structure plan and precinct plan processes have been regulated across all local governments.  

A review of the Structure Plan Framework is currently underway to provide contemporary, clear and consistent guidance for preparing and assessing precinct and standard structure plans (and amendments). 

Development assessment processes are streamlined and outcomes-focused
Current status

Through a Development Assessment and Consultation working group – involving industry, local government and the private sector – a number of changes were scoped and tested, resulting in the following process improvements.

  • limit of one further information request for simple development proposals
  • mechanism to pause statutory timeframe when additional information is requested; and
  • voluntary deemed-to-comply check for single house applications in Perth metropolitan and Peel region scheme areas. 

DAP processes are more consistent and transparent 

Changes to reduce the number of Development Assessment Panels from nine to five came into effect in April 2020.

This key structural change is an interim step toward the goal of moving to a system with no more than three panels. It provides an opportunity maintain a level of panel member continuity while implementing this significant change, and other DAP improvements.

A range of other initiatives that have been undertaken or are being rolled out include:

  • new reporting templates and guidelines for clear, concise and consistent information
  • introduced electronic meeting options to provide more flexibility for public attendance
  • published more supporting information for greater transparency of decision-making.

Current activity  
Currently reviewing public comment received on proposed changes to the Development Assessment Panel (DAP) system which include the appointment of fixed-term members, a reduction in the number of panels and the creation of special panel to deal with complex applications.

For further information on the DAP system reforms, visit the DAP reforms webpage.

The WAPC is more efficient and strategically-focused  
Current activity

Early actions to increase transparency to WAPC operations were introduced in 2020. These included publication of agenda reports in full for planning matters where the Commission is the decision-making authority. For matters where the WAPC is making a recommendation to the Minister (which remain confidential), a Key Matters Coversheet has been introduced to provide high level information on report focus. New arrangements to ensure that proponents and key stakeholders are notified in advance of the referral of items to the Commission or Statutory Planning Committee have also been introduced.

Broader review of options to refine the structure and operation of the Commission in line with the direction of the Action Plan commenced in April 2022. Options will be discussed with the WAPC in the second half of 2022 with a view to making recommendations to the Minister by the end of the calendar year.

Planning activity data drive system improvements
Current status

Early workshops have been held with stakeholders to develop the framework for collection, analysis and publication of planning activity data.


The State Government is progressively implementing the 19 initiatives of the Action Plan for Planning Reform and some new initiatives drawn from 2021 consultation. 

Some measures were delivered as part of an initial phase, some were fast tracked to support economic recovery from COVID-19 and work continues on other more substantial reform initiatives.

Action Plan Implementation Timeline

In 2020, the State Government progressed historic amendments to the Planning and Development Act 2005, and the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015, to support the goals and reform initiatives of the Action Plan.

Timing and sequencing of delivery of the planning reform program considers priorities and capacity of State and local government agencies, and the wider planning and development industry, with consideration also given to the interdependency of various reform initiatives.

Key Documents

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For further information, please contact the Department's Reform Delivery Team on 6551 8002 or