State Development Assessment Unit

Find out more about the State Development Assessment Unit's role in the Part 17 significant development pathway, which reopened to applications in late June 2022.

In June 2022, the WA Parliament passed legislation to re-open the Part 17 pathway to 29 December 2023. The legislation also allows the Western Australian Planning Commission to consider applications to extend the substantial commencement period for approved proposals. The laws were introduced to determine a further pipeline of major projects and assist in addressing challenges in the residential and commercial construction markets. 

Read Media statement

See below for more information about the Part 17 pathway, and FAQs.

Overview

The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) is supported in determining Part 17 applications by a team in the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage – the State Development Assessment Unit.

Read the WAPC Chairman's statement

The  State Development Assessment Unit (SDAU) is a team of experienced planners who undertake various activities associated with significant development proposals on behalf of the WAPC. Its activities include:

  • preliminary meetings with proponents to determine whether a proposal meets the ‘significant development’ eligibility criteria;
  • engaging with key stakeholders, including members of the public, the local government and other agencies such as Main Roads Western Australia and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, in consultation about proposals;
  • assessing development applications, which includes overseeing design review, preparing a report and making a recommendation about each application to the WAPC; 
  • assessing applications to amend approved developments, including applications to extend substantial commencement;
  • issuing clearances for conditions of approval on behalf of the WAPC.

WAPC (Part 17 significant development) agendas and minutes

The early engagement phase of the pathway is designed to provide advice to potential applicants, and the opportunity to address any issues prior to formal lodgement of a development application.

The State Development Assessment Unit coordinates all referral and consultation processes simultaneously to ensure they are efficient and delays are limited, and the WAPC’s decision-making process can be streamlined.

Application process

The  State Development Assessment Unit application assessment process is not subject to any prescribed timeframes and is generally as follows:

Intent to lodge
Initial discussion with SDAU to gauge suitability of a development proposal for the significant development pathway. If suitable, proponent encouraged to seek formal pre-lodgement advice (Form 17A) from the SDAU.

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Pre-lodgement Advice (Form 17A)
Form 17A request submitted for pre-lodgement advice, along with concept plans and preliminary planning and technical reports > Design review by State Design Review Panel (up to three reviews) >  SDAU engages with stakeholders and provides preliminary planning advice to applicant, identifying key issues > SDAU confirms information needed from proponent for formal application (Form 17B).

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Lodge Development Application (Form 17B)
Completed application form (Form 17B) submitted along with land ownership details, application fees, development plans, planning report, Economic Benefits Report and other supporting technical documents. 

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Part 17 Application Assessment
SDAU undertakes public consultation and referral to relevant agencies, local government and Minister for Planning > Final design review by State Design Review Panel > If required, applicant submits revised plans and additional information > SDAU completes assessment and prepares report and recommendation for WAPC determination meeting.

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Determination by WAPC
Meeting agenda published with SDAU recommendation > Deputation request period > WAPC meeting held to determine application, open to public > Minutes published and applicant, local government, referral agencies and submitters notified of outcome.

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Amendments (Form 17C)
Proponent can apply to amend approved development, including an extension to substantial commencement period (Form 17C) > SDAU may undertake referral to agencies, local government and Minister for Planning, and in the case of major changes, public consultation > SDAU assesses application and makes recommendation to WAPC > Major changes determined by WAPC in public meeting with deputations > Minor changes determined under delegated authority.  

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Clearance of Conditions
Proponent submits Clearance of Conditions matrix and documentation specified in conditions, along with final working drawings > SDAU checks that documents satisfy conditions set out in Development Approval  > Stakeholder referral takes place > Clearance provided by SDAU on behalf of WAPC > Clearances can be staged subject to WAPC approval.
 
Note: Indicative only. Assessment process tailored to requirements of individual proposals and might involve fewer or more steps.  

About the Part 17 assessment pathway

What is a significant development?

To be considered a significant development under the legislation, proposals must have an estimated value of $20 million or more in Perth’s metropolitan area or $5 million or more in regional areas. 

Why is the WAPC the decision-maker for significant development proposals?

The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) is the decision-making authority for all proposals in the assessment pathway. Applicants can choose the pathway or continue with the regular processes of assessment by local government or a Development Assessment Panel.

Part 17 of the Planning and Development Act 2005 (PD Act) enables the WAPC to accept applications for significant development until 5pm on 29 December 2023. There is no time limit for determination of the applications.
The WAPC was chosen to be the determining authority for significant developments because it is a trusted decision-maker in the WA’s planning system with state-wide responsibility for urban, rural and regional integrated strategic and statutory land use planning and land development.  

The WAPC board comprises a chairman and 15 members who represent government, industry and the community. While the significant development pathway enables the WAPC to consider the broader economic and public benefits of a development proposal, it must have regard to all submissions and advice received during consultation and give full consideration to:

  • the purpose and intent of the Local Planning Scheme;
  • ensuring orderly and proper planning, and preservation of amenity of the locality;
  • the need to facilitate development responding to economic effects of COVID-19;
  • relevant State planning policies and any other relevant WAPC policies.

In addition, under Part 17 of the PD Act the Commission is bound by the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 and so is unable to make a decision that would be contrary to any Ministerial Statement issued in accordance with the Act. Please see more information below.
 

Lodging a development or amendment application

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How do I lodge a development application?

The State Development Assessment Unit (SDAU) first verifies that the proposed application meets the eligibility criteria for the pathway. Please contact a member of the SDAU team to discuss your proposal and your intentions before submitting an intent to lodge form. 

If the proposal is well advanced, you be required to complete an application form (Form 17B). You will be provided an authorisation code to transfer all documents online and details to pay the fee.

Which forms/documents do I need to lodge?

Depending on how advanced the proposal is, you will be required to complete one of the following forms:

  • Form 17A – Pre-lodgement Advice Request to facilitate early discussions about your application, prior to lodgement
  • Form 17B – Application for Development Approval to formally lodge your development proposal for determination by the Western Australian Planning Commission
  • Form 17C – Application to amend/cancel approval for Significant Development in the event that an approved application needs to be amended or you need to cancel your approval.

In addition to the relevant application form, you will need to provide a broad range of technical documents which will be discussed and qualified during pre-lodgement. This could range from detailed plans and drawings, to traffic management reports, heritage reports, environmental assessments and proposed management plans.

Please contact a member of the SDAU team to discuss your proposal and ensure that the correct form is completed. You can also refer to the Part 17 – Guide for Applicants  for more information. 

How do I make an amendment to my development approval?

In the event an approved development needs to be amended or cancelled, a Form 17C – Application to amend/cancel approval for Significant Development is to be lodged. 

An amendment can include modifications to the development plans, changes to approval condition/s and an extension to the specified period for substantial commencement.

Please see Forms and Fees page

How do I calculate the application value?

The value is based on the estimated total construction cost (excluding GST) of the proposed significant development.

There may be instances where the estimated value of a proposal needs to be clarified or is just over the threshold – that is $20 million in the metropolitan area and $5 million in a regional area. In these cases, the SDAU may require the proponent to provide a construction cost schedule which also may be subject to peer review.

What fees apply?

A fee will need to be paid in accordance with the published fee schedule.

Fees are exempt from GST.

EFT transfer details will be provided when you lodge your application.
 

Assessment

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What consideration will be given to local planning scheme requirements, policy and local concerns?

The Western Australian Planning Commission must have due regard for the local planning framework in determining the application. However it also undertakes a more strategic assessment to consider non-planning related matters in the public interest and the broader economic, social and environmental benefits that can be delivered for the State in response to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pathway streamlines the assessment process for projects that have investment certainty and are well designed and ready for construction to commence. 

Consultation

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Will applications be advertised for public comment?

Yes. Following initial planning, design and technical consideration by the SDAU and stakeholders, applications are released for public comment. Plans and supporting documents are released on the Department's website, and where possible at the local government offices in regional areas, for the community to view and provide feedback. Notices are also published in local newspapers, letters sent to the owners and occupiers of surrounding and nearby properties and applicants are required to install at least one sign  at the site during consultation, with an illustration of the proposed development. 

How long do I have to make a comment?

There is no prescribed timeframe for public consultation however it is expected all 17B applications will initially be advertised for a minimum of 28 days . The closing date for submissions for each application is included in the consultation notices. 

Where revised development plans are submitted after the initial consultation, and depending on the extent of changes proposed, a proposal may be re-advertised. The consultation period for an amended application (Form 17C) will vary and be dependent on the nature and extent of the modification/s being proposed. Consultation for these applications will be established on a case by case basis.

An amended application (Form 17C) which seeks to amend the substantial commencement period will be advertised for a minimum of 14, and those who made submissions on the approved application will be directly notified in writing and invited to comment on the amended application.

Which organisations and agencies are consulted on the application?

The Western Australian Planning Commission will refer the application to the local government, and all relevant regulatory agencies for comment. This could include the Environmental Protection Authority, Main Roads Western Australia, Public Transport Authority, Department of Transport, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Heritage Council of Western Australia and others.

Will the recommendation to the Western Australian Planning Commission, and the determination be publicly available?

Yes. Information will be published on the Department website including:

  • agenda papers for Western Australian Planning Commission meetings which are available at least five business days prior to the meeting;
  • the decision including reasons;
  • where the matter is deemed to be of significant public interest, a broad public statement may also be made;
  • unconfirmed minutes of Western Australian Planning Commission meetings which are available within 10 business days of the meeting.

What impact does a review by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) have on the development assessment process?

Proposals likely to have a significant effect on the environment, referred to as “significant proposals”, may be considered by the EPA for environmental impact assessment. View the EPA assessment process 

Assessment of a Part 17 significant development application, including consultation with the public and relevant State and local government stakeholders, can continue while the EPA considers whether an environmental assessment is required and while the review is under way . 

However, the WAPC cannot make a decision that would allow the proposal to be implemented until such time as the Public Environmental Review  process is complete and any Ministerial Statement has been issued. The WAPC is unable to make a decision that would be contrary to any Ministerial Statement issued in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1986.

Determination

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What form will decision-making meetings take?

Once the assessment is complete, the WAPC holds a special public meeting to determine an application for significant development. 

Information about the meeting is available on the Department website  and members of the public who provided comments on the proposal are informed of the meeting date and details. 

Deputations can be requested. Information about applying for a deputation is available on the Department website . 

People can attend a meeting in person or virtually via a Zoom link.    

The order of business is set out in the meeting agenda. Agenda papers are published on the Department website , a minimum of five business days before the meeting. The outcome of the meeting and reasons for the WAPC’s decision are also published there within 10 business days of the meeting

How can I present at a Western Australian Planning Commission meeting?

Applications to make a presentation at a WAPC meeting are to be made in writing using the application form on the Agendas and Minutes page. Forms must be submitted no later than 2pm three business days before the meeting.

What decisions can the Western Australian Planning Commission make?

The WAPC may make one of the following decisions:

  • approve the application; 
  • approve the application subject to conditions;
  • refuse the application.

Will the Western Australian Planning Commission’s determination be publicly available?

Yes. Information will be published on the Department website including:

  • the determination decision including reasons;
  • where the matter is deemed to be of significant public interest, a broad public statement may also be made;
  • unconfirmed minutes of Western Australian Planning Commission meetings are also available within 10 business days of the meeting.

Is the decision of the Western Australian Planning Commission final?

An applicant may request a determination is reviewed through the State Administrative Tribunal.

Who is responsible for administering any conditions of approval on an application?

The SDAU, on behalf of the Western Australian Planning Commission, works with the applicant and relevant regulatory agencies to ensure all conditions are met. This includes any conditions that need to be satisfied prior to construction commencing as well as others over the life of the approval.
 

Page reviewed 3 August 2022