Guide to the WA planning system

A useful guide for sport and recreation professionals.

Disclaimer: This resource contains comments of a general nature only and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for professional advice. No responsibility will be accepted by the Department of Sport and Recreation for loss occasioned to any person doing anything as a result of any material in this resource.

The planning system

The Western Australian Planning system coordinates land use and development by balancing a number of potentially competing issues relating to the economy, social and environmental matters.  The balancing of the ‘triple bottom line’ is guided by a series of planning policies, schemes and other statutory processes.  The fundamental aim is to develop and sustain a high quality of life for people living within our communities.  The two key elements to the planning system are:

Strategic planning

Long term planning for WA by integrating economic, social, environmental and infrastructure requirements.  This is the most critical area to inform from a sport and leisure perspective as it has the potential to secure land and resources to accommodate demands resulting from future growth.

Statutory planning

The legal approval process which ensures land use, land supply and urban development is effectively managed. The ability to influence outcomes from a sport and recreation perspective at this stage is more limited as development is governed closely by a raft of legislation and regulations that would have evolved from the strategic planning process.

The principle town planning legislation is laid out in the Planning and Development Act 2005.

Lead proponents within the WA planning system

The Minister for Planning

The Minister has overall responsibility for planning, lands, transport and roads. The Minister is also responsible for the production of State Planning Policies that guide development and land use in association with local and regional planning strategies and schemes.

The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC)

The statutory authority with state wide responsibilities for urban, rural and regional land use planning and land development matters. The WAPC responds to the strategic direction of government and is responsible for the strategic planning of the State.

The Department of Planning (DoP)

Provides professional and technical expertise, administrative services and resources to advise the WAPC and implement its decisions. The WAPC has responsibility for decision-making and a significant level of funding while the department provides the human resources and professional advice. The DoP and WAPC have commenced a comprehensive and strategic reform to improve the land use planning processes and the approvals system in Western Australia. The WAPC delegates some responsibilities to the department including decision making on subdivisions and Development Applications (DAs) where they comply with WAPC policies and practices.

Other State Government departments

The role of State Government departments is invariably one of a statutory or non-statutory consultee on all planning matters. They inform the planning process at all levels.  They perform a role of advisor to the DoP and WAPC and their involvement will vary from specialist strategic advice (i.e. the long term impact on the environment through Department of Environment (DEC) and Department of Water (DoW)) to site specific infrastructure (i.e. the ability for existing and planned infrastructure to cope with an increase in population through departments such as Main Roads WA and The Water Corporation).  The Department of Sport and Recreation (DSR) may be invited to respond to a planning proposal as a non-statutory consultee.

State Administrative Tribunal (SAT)

The arbiter in appeals against decisions to refuse planning approval.  The SAT is an independent body that is required to take account of State Planning Policies when determining appeals and reports to the Minister for Planning.

Local government

Responsible for planning their local communities.  They prepare and administer local planning schemes and strategies. Schemes must be reviewed every five years.

Developers, land owners and applicants

Responsible for providing schemes for development on land owned by their clients or themselves in accordance with strategic planning guidance and State Planning Policies. Where development is proposed, the developer, landowner and applicant is responsible for ensuring that development is safe and suitable for use for the purpose for which it is intended, and provide evidence to that effect.  The WAPC, DoP and local government in consultation with a wide range of agencies and individuals will ultimately determine whether land is suitable for a particular development.