State Development Assessment Unit

Find out more about the role of the State Development Assessment Unit in this temporary assessment pathway, which closed to applications in early January 2022.

The State Government has introduced a Bill to Parliament to re-open the Part 17 pathway from early July 2022 to December 2023. The legislation would also allow the Western Australian Planning Commission to approve an application to extend the substantial commencement period for approved applications. The Bill has been drafted to respond to challenges in the residential and commercial construction markets. 

Read Media statement - Bill before Parliament to reopen significant development pathway

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

Overview

The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) is supported in its decision-making process by a team within the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage - the State Development Assessment Unit.

Read the WAPC Chairman's statement

The team of experienced planners assesses all proposals on behalf of the WAPC. Its activities have included:

  • preliminary meetings with proponents to determine whether a proposal meets the ‘significant development’ eligibility criteria
  • engaging with key stakeholders, including local government and the public, in consultation about proposals
  • assessing development applications – which includes overseeing design review and undertaking referrals to other agencies such as Main Roads Western Australia and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
  • preparing a report and making a recommendation about each application to the WAPC, which makes the final determination
  • 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 was 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 works to coordinate all referrals and consultation processes simultaneously to ensure the referral process is efficient and without extended timelines, thereby streamlining a development decision.

FAQ - About the temporary assessment pathway

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What is a significant development?

To be considered a significant development under the new 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 is the decision-making authority for all proposals in the temporary assessment pathway. Applicants could choose the temporary 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) enabled the WAPC to accept applications for significant development proposals for a period of 18 months up until early January 2022. There is no time limit for determination of the applications.

The WAPC was chosen to be the determining authority for significant developments as it is a trusted decision maker in the State’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 temporary 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 an application

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The pathway is currently closed to new applications for significant development.

The WA Parliament is in the process of considering legislation to re-open the pathway from early July 2022 to December 2023. Please re-visit this page in coming weeks to find out more.

When will the pathway re-open to applications?

The pathway is proposed to open to new applications in early July 2022 and close in December 2023. The final dates are subject to consideration by Parliament.

How do I express interest in making a Part 17 application? Where are the application forms?

This information will be provided once the legislation is passed. 

Will this affect my existing application?

No. 

How do I apply to extend the substantial commencement date of my approved application? 

This information will be provided once the legislation is passed. 

Will the application fees be different from the first phase of the Part 17 pathway?

The fees are not proposed to be different, but this will be confirmed once the final legislation is passed. 

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 plnning 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.

This temporary assessment pathway has streamlined the assessment process for projects that have investment certainty, are well designed and are 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 Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage 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 signs 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 applications will be advertised for a minimum of 28 days. The closing date for submissions for each application is included in the consultation notices.  

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 at least five business days prior to the meeting
  • significant development decisions 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 working days of the meeting.

How does a review by the Environmental Protection Authority impact the development assessment process?

Proposals likely to have a significant effect on the environment, referred to as “significant proposals”, are referred to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for environmental impact assessment. Once the EPA has received a valid referral, it invites public comments on whether or not the EPA should assess the proposal and, if so, the level of assessment. View the EPA assessment process

Assessment of an application for significant development can continue while a review is undertaken by the EPA, including consultation with the public and relevant State and local government stakeholders. 

However, the Western Australian Planning Commission is constrained from making a decision on the application until the EPA has completed its review and the Minister for Environment has made a decision about whether the proposed development should be allowed to proceed. The Commission 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?

The Western Australian Planning Commission holds special public meetings to determine applications for significant development.  People can attend these meetings in person or virtually via a Zoom link.  

The order of business is set out in the meeting agenda published on the Department’s website at least 5 business days prior.

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

Applications to make a presentation at a Western Australian Planning Commission 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 (3) business days before the meeting.

What decisions can the Western Australian Planning Commission make?

The Western Australian Planning Commission 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 significant development 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?

Once the Western Australian Planning Commission has made a determination, the applicant may request that the determination is reviewed through the State Administrative Tribunal.

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

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, on behalf of the Western Australian Planning Commission, works with the applicant and relevant regulatory agencies to ensure all conditions are met following approval. 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 11 May 2022