Action Plan for Planning Reform implementation

The Action Plan outlines a series of early actions, next priorities and future actions.


The State Government is progressively implementing the 19 initiatives of the Action Plan for Planning Reform. Some measures were delivered as part of an initial phase, some were fast tracked to support economic recovery from COVID-19 and other more substantial reform initiatives will be delivered in the next phase of planning reform.

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

Planning creates great places for people

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A1 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.

A2 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.

A3 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.

A4 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.

A draft policy for medium density residential development was released for public consultation in late 2020. The Department hosted a series of workshops with industry stakeholders to inform policy development and as part of the consultation program. All feedback is currently being reviewed to inform the final policy which is due for release in early 2022. 

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

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B1 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. 

B2 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.

B3 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.

B4 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.

B5 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 Guide to Best Practice Planning Engagement has been published.

Planning systems are consistent and efficient

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C1 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 and a suite of consistent car parking requirements for appropriate zones.

C2(i) 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.

C2(ii) Car parking requirements in commercial and mixed-use centres are consistent

Current status

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

C3 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.

C4 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).

C5 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.

C6 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.  

C7 Development assessment processes are streamlined and outcomes-focussed

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. 

C8 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  

Public comment is currently open on proposed changes to the Development Assessment Panel (DAP) system which include:

  • Further reducing the number of geographically grouped panels from the current five (5) panel configuration to three (3). These are to be known as the Metro-Inner, Metro-Outer and Regional District DAPs  .
  • Appointing fixed-term Presiding Members and Deputy Presiding Members (3 to 5 years) to be employed by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage for the District DAPs. The third specialist member will initially be drawn from a pool, which may change to the same arrangements as the Presiding and Deputy Presiding Members. No changes are proposed to local government representation on a District DAP.
  • Creating a Special Matters DAP to consider matters of State and regional importance. The Special Matters DAP will be able to consider and determine projects of State or regional importance, or certain types of applications in precincts of State or regional importance. 
  • General process and administrative reforms to improve transparency, consistency and efficiency.

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

C9 The WAPC is more efficient and strategically-focussed  

Current activity

WAPC meeting agendas and minutes, and selected complete officer reports, are now published online. A Key Matters Coversheet has also been introduced to provide high-level information on confidential statutory planning proposals, and new arrangements are now in place to ensure proponents and key stakeholders are notified in advance of the details of the WAPC or SPC meeting at which the matters of interest to them will be considered.

Options to amend the structure and operation of the Commission in line with the direction established in the Action Plan are under review.

C10 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.

Page reviewed 12 May 2022