Planning approval process changes

Planning Minister John Day announced last month that applications valued between $2 million and $10 million could opt to have their plans assessed by a panel from May 1.

Previously, the opt-in value ranged from $3 million to $7 million, while those of higher value automatically went to a panel.

The WA branch of the Urban Development Institute of Australia welcomed the April 21 announcement, saying it gave developers more choices.

�The industry has the opportunity to either work with the local government or seek approval from a DAP for a far greater range of projects,� chief executive Debra Goostrey said.

�This is not about choosing one approval process above another across the board, rather it is about increasing the choices that are available to each proponent so that they can make decisions appropriate to their circumstances.�

Mr Day said the changed thresholds would create a more flexible and transparent planning system.

�By adjusting these thresholds, the planning system is providing applicants with more flexibility to choose whether their application is determined by a DAP or the relevant local government,� Mr Day said.

�At a community level, the reduction of the opt-in threshold recognises that some smaller priced developments may benefit from being reviewed by an independent panel.

�Similarly, increasing the mandatory thresholds will allow applications which would have previously been required to be determined by a DAP to be determined by the local government.�

The regulations will also allow local governments to refer an otherwise excluded multiple or grouped dwelling proposal to a DAP for determination, if it falls within the optional thresholds.

The north west metropolitan development assessment panel has met more than 80 times to assess multi-million dollar developments in the cities of Joondalup, Wanneroo and Stirling since the panels were introduced 2011.

The five-person panel includes three independent planning experts and two councillors from the relevant local government area. Approved applications include an 18-storey mixed use development in Joondalup, Butler�s $40 million shopping centre, a 40-unit apartment block beside Mindarie Marina, the Currambine shopping centre expansion, the Wanneroo GP Super Clinic and Banksia Grove�s $12 million shopping centre.