The introduction of legislation that will extend special COVID-19 planning powers will remove Local Governments from important planning approval processes and effectively silences the voices of communities on major planning decisions in their towns and suburbs.

The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) has expressed disappointment and concern at the State Government’s announcement to introduce the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2022, which will re-open the State Development Assessment Unit (SDAU) pathway for significant projects until December 2023. 

WALGA President Cr Karen Chappel said that providing developers the option of by-passing Local Governments in the planning assessment and approval process for significant developments, means local planning schemes can be ignored or overridden.  

“Local Governments develop local planning schemes in close consultation with their communities,” she said.

“These schemes reflect community aspirations for future planning and development in their towns and suburbs, and strike a balance between growth and protecting the unique character of our neighbourhoods.

“We cannot see a reasonable justification for the extended use of these extraordinary powers, particularly the argument that the existing planning approval pathways do not provide sufficient certainty for industry.”

Cr Chappel said that WALGA has been collecting data on both Local Government planning decisions and Development Assessment Panels (DAPs) and this data clearly demonstrates that the existing pathways continue to deliver sound and timely planning decisions in the face of a huge increase in development applications.
“Since their inception, DAPs – which have Local Government representation - have approved over 95% of all applications,” she said.

“Approval rates for proposals determined by Local Governments over the last five years are even higher, with 99% of all proposals approved.

“What is clear is that the existing pathways are providing efficient, consistent and quality planning decisions and playing their part in supporting economic growth and the recovery from COVID-19.” 


Fact File 

The 30 Local Government’s that participate in WALGA’s Performance Monitoring Project represent 80% of the state’s population, assessed over 20,000 development applications in 2020-21, a 25% increase from the previous year, of which:
o    99% were approved,
o    98% were determined under delegation, and
o    88% were determined within statutory timeframes