From the CEO

I have just returned from a roundtable discussion with Minister Saffioti and Parliamentary Secretary for Planning, Jessica Stojkovski on Phase 2 of Planning Reform. Joined by other industry body colleagues, it was an opportunity for UDIA WA and others to pitch their top three ideas that we think would make the biggest difference to our respective membership bases and I’m pleased to report that the Minister was very engaged and open to our recommendations.

The Parliamentary Secretary provided an overview of key themes coming through from the extensive community consultation undertaken throughout WA. The themes included timeliness of approvals, commercial viability of development and costs of servicing land, the varied use of discretion, third party appeal rights and clear focus on the importance of liveability.

UDIA WA’s first priority was to reinforce and re-establish the primacy of planning, a point that was well received by both the Minister and DPLH. We proposed a review of the current WAPC membership to focus on strategic decision making without being vetoed by referral agency representation.  Our second recommendation to establish a Housing Supply Advisory Group was supported by all parties around the table, with the Minister seeing a possibility to have it report up to a Cabinet level to ensure that key constraints to the delivery of housing across the continuum were addressed at the highest level. We also highlighted the importance of having a dedicated environmental team within DPLH to drive better environmental outcomes in a far more efficient manner. Finally we highlighted the need for concurrent amendments of various planning instruments.

If you missed UDIA WA’s submission on Phase 2 Planning Reform, you can find it here.

And the countdown is on! It’s just over a week until the industry’s gala event of the year, the UDIA WA Awards for Excellence. With only a few tickets remaining and more than 500 guests, it is shaping up to be a fantastic celebration of the lasting legacies we leave our community in our amazing projects. I can’t wait to celebrate with you all.

UDIA responds to Planning Reform Phase 2

UDIA WA is pleased to advise that we have lodged a formal submission to the State Government on behalf of members on Phase 2 Planning Reform entitled Realising Planning Potential.

Our submission is very comprehensive and covers the priority issues impacting the urban development industry.

Within it UDIA highlights our support for the Government’s continued focus on ensuring that Western Australia benefits from a contemporary, effective and efficient land use planning system. The current demand for housing highlights the need to ensure that our planning system is efficient. Delays and uncertainty in the planning approvals process adds risk and cost to development, jeopardising housing affordability.

Meanwhile, development is becoming increasingly challenging as we strive to increase the intensity of development in both new and established suburbs, whilst also seeking to resolve a broader range of social and environmental challenges. Therefore, planning must be at the forefront of decision making, enabling the system to deliver effective outcomes through better infrastructure coordination, greater innovation and good design.

In response to COVID-19, the Government adopted a range of positive planning reform measures, however many of these reforms are time limited. Longer-term, permanent planning reform is needed to foster greater innovation and ensure that WA’s planning system maximises its potential and is at the forefront of providing solutions to our evolving social, economic and environmental challenges.

To ensure that the planning system enables development, creates jobs and adds to the vibrancy of our communities, UDIA has offered 15 recommendations across six key areas of planning reform, which can be viewed in our full submission.

We would like to thank members for their time in providing feedback on our submission, which can be read here.

SDAU update

This week the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage provided an update in relation to Part 17 of the Planning and Development Act 2005, the significant development assessment pathway (SDAU).

In the update DPLH confirmed the official closing date for formal lodgement of significant development applications under Part 17 of the Planning and Development Act 2005 is 6 January 2022, and there is no ability for this date to be extended.

With this in mind, if you are wanting to submit an application for significant development to the Western Australian Planning Commission, it is strongly recommended that you do so by early to mid-December 2021, at the latest, to ensure your application can be lodged before the closing date.

While pre-lodgement is encouraged, to incorporate design review/s, preliminary stakeholder comment and planning advice to inform the details of any application, it is acknowledged that there might not be sufficient time to undertake a full pre-lodgement process in the coming months. In such cases you are advised to liaise with the SDAU (through your planner where one has been assigned) to determine the plans and documentation that will be required in order for a development application to be accepted.

UDIA WA has called for a permanent process similar to the SDAU to be introduced as part of our Phase 2 Planning Reform Submission, which can be accessed here.

UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck outlined the merits of the Special Matters Development Assessment Panel in her opinion piece published in The West Australian yesterday, which can be read here.

UDIA National TV with Jason Falinski MP

Jason Falinski MP, Chair of the Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue is set to feature in the upcoming special edition of UDIA National TV on Thursday 9 September.

UDIA National advocates that the current housing supply and affordability crisis is threatening the current and future prosperity of all Australians and needs to be fixed. Mr Falinski is leading a Federal Inquiry into housing supply issues to examine taxes, charges and regulatory settings at local, state and federal levels.

Following Mr Falinski’s presentation, viewers will have the opportunity to ask questions direct to him and UDIA during our live Q&A session.

Register now for this must attend industry event and hear an update on the Federal Inquiry process and the worsening impact of the housing supply crisis.

For more information and to register, click here.

NCC 2022 public comment draft (stage 2) consultation now open

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) is seeking comment on proposed amendments to energy efficiency and condensation technical provisions, for possible inclusion in National Construction Code (NCC) 2022. UDIA WA will be providing a submission and seeking feedback from members to support this.

Some of the more significant amendments proposed in this second and final stage of the PCD include:

  • a stringency increase in the thermal performance of homes from the current level, equivalent to 6-stars NatHERS, to the equivalent of 7 stars
  • introducing whole-of-home annual energy use requirements (noting differences between Class 1 and 2 buildings)
  • a new set of Deemed-to-Satisfy elemental provisions for Class 2 buildings
  • new provisions designed to allow easy retrofit of on-site renewables and electric vehicle charging equipment for Class 2 to 9 buildings, and
  • enhanced condensation management provisions, including additional ventilation and wall vapour permeability requirements.

Any feedback on the proposed amendments can be emailed to

Draft Guidance for Planning and Development: Protection of Naturally Vegetated Areas in Urban and Peri-urban Areas

Earlier this week UDIA lodged a new submission on the Draft Guidance for Planning and Development: Protection of Naturally Vegetated Areas in Urban and Peri-urban Areas.

In our submission we acknowledge the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) efforts to ensure its Guidance documents remain contemporary, however we state our disappointment that the draft Guidance does not accurately reflect common scenarios or challenges that the development industry consistently faces.

We also state our disappointment that despite our repeated efforts to engage and work collaboratively on the revision of the guidance over the past two-three years, this opportunity has not been taken up. As a result, the Guidance fails to provide any further practical guidance or advice than that set out in the existing EP Bulletin 20.

To resolve these challenges, we recommend a more holistic and robust review of the existing EP Bulletin 20 is needed with more specific guidance prepared. To be effective, the Guidance needs to set out practical advice relating to the impact of clearing, that contains a broader range of considerations including scale and thresholds for different vegetation types and complexes.

The Guidance also needs to provide greater clarity on how the ongoing management of native vegetation can be achieved. To achieve these objectives, it is imperative that the Guidance is prepared in close collaboration with the development industry, using actual case study examples to properly test the advice provided.

To read the submission in full, click here.

Draft native vegetation policy – Have your say

This week consultation officially opened on Western Australia’s first native vegetation policy with businesses, organisations and individuals invited to have their say on the draft policy.

According to Environment Minister, the Hon. Amber-Jade Sanderson ,the draft policy reflects feedback shared during extensive public consultation on the Native Vegetation in Western Australia issues paper last year.

The policy is designed to drive better mapping and monitoring. It also prompts regionalised policymaking involving local stakeholders to take into account the great diversity of native vegetation, its threats and competing priorities.

UDIA WA will be preparing a submission on the draft policy and we encourage members to share their feedback with us to build our submission. To view the draft policy, click here and send all feedback through to before submissions close on October 25.

UDIA National support NHFIC findings

On Monday UDIA National released a media statement welcoming new analysis from The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) that identifies inefficient and inequitable infrastructure charges are adding tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of new housing.

Within the statement UDIA National President Simon Basheer says the continued creep of infrastructure charges and levies is adding to the affordability woes facing homebuyers across Australia, with these taxes potentially comprising as much as 20% of the total cost of new housing and add as much as $85,000 to the ‘sticker price’.

“Every single cent charged in infrastructure taxes, charges and levies gets baked into the final price paid by homebuyers and sits on top of the costs incurred via stamp duties and other taxes on property,” Mr Basheer said.

“What’s worse, there is evidence the complexity and inefficiency of the existing process is serving the system poorly, with delays in the delivery of essential infrastructure stalling the release of new housing.”

UDIA National has consistently called for the development and implementation of ‘leagues tables’ to hold states, territories and local governments to account for the performance of planning systems and the delivery of much needed supply to put downward pressure on pricing.

“Benchmarking the elements of planning systems – including infrastructure charges – and transparently reporting on their performance is critical if we’re going to fix housing supply,” Mr Basheer said.

“This is where the Commonwealth Government and NHFIC can take a leadership role, and then match it with an incentives-based system that prompts the states and territories to fix barriers to housing supply.”

To view the media release in full, click here.

Great opportunity to join the team

UDIA WA are on the lookout for a new member to join the team as Member Services Officer.

The new role is responsible for providing a diverse range of administrative support services to the UDIA team and members across policy, communications and business development functions.

Key responsibilities include:

  • Comprehensive administrative support to the team across all areas of the organisation
  • Member relationship coordination, administration and response
  • Coordination & administration of UDIA WA Committees and policy working groups.

For more information and to apply, click here.

WA economy still surging

Despite expectations of a decline in the Australian economy, following the lockdown in NSW, the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have found the national economy rose 0.7% in the June quarter with GDP rising 1.4% in 2020-21.

Much of this increase will be due to the surging Western Australian economy with our State Final Demand growing by 4.3% during 2020-21, which was the strongest growth of all the States and the highest growth in eight years.

Each element of SFD grew in 2020-21 and all are above pre-COVID levels:

  • household consumption grew by 2.6% underpinned by record growth in retail spending, which has been the strongest of any jurisdiction;
  • dwelling investment grew by 3.8%; and
  • business investment grew by 4.3%.

Since the start of the pandemic, Western Australia’s economy has grown by 5.7% between the December quarter 2019 and June quarter 2021 – also the strongest of the States and almost double the rate of growth of the rest of Australia. Excluding Western Australia, the national domestic economy over this period has grown by 2.9%.

Population growth, regional connectivity, and city planning—international lessons for Australian practice

Recent research by AHURI has found there is rising interest in the potential for Australia’s regional areas to attract and sustain population and economic growth. This study investigated this potential, examining international and Australian models for supporting development beyond capital city centres.

Through a research evidence review and in-depth analysis of 12 international and Australian case study regions, the study found that there is no single model for regional planning, development, or governance. Rather, there has been a general trend towards place-based regional interventions, which focus on unique regional attributes and opportunities.

While recognising the economic benefits of agglomeration in major cities, the international review highlighted opportunities for smaller centres to succeed by specialising on particular economic strengths or locational advantages, provided they are well connected to a larger city and/or regional network.

Consequently, this research finds potential to better support regional areas through spatial planning and investment strategies, which recognise their unique place-based identity, fostering key specialist areas for growth while preserving and enhancing natural and cultural amenities and high quality of life.

For more information and to read the research in full, click here.

One month to go for electricity credit applications

There is just one more month to apply for a $500 electricity credit for small business and charities impacted during the five-day lockdown in February this year.

The $500 credit was made available for small businesses and charities that aren’t Synergy or Horizon customers but incurred electricity costs during the five-day lockdown in February this year.

This includes organisations on embedded network arrangements, sub-metered properties and businesses billed by alternate energy retailers. Other similar arrangements where electricity costs are recouped by a third party will also be considered.

Applications opened on Monday June 14 and will close on September 30, 2021. Applications and supporting documents can be lodged here.