UDIA In Action

Our State Conference last week was another roaring success and we were delighted to be joined by so many industry colleagues and friends in Bunker Bay once again. Delegates experienced another immersive welcome to country from Shaun Nannup before a range of insightful presentations.

At the State Conference we also launched our Policy Priorities for 2021, which centre on a collaborative approach between industry and government and recognise the importance of our industry to the broader economy.

The priorities build on a consistent theme from previous years, breaking down our recommendations into three key pillars Economy, Environment and Liveability. Our Policy Priorities 2021 document can be viewed here.

On Tuesday we held another meeting of our Built Form Advisory Committee, which provided an excellent opportunity to further progress our actions towards improving the Built Form environment.

This week we also finalised a special edition of our quarterly magazine, The Urbanist, which highlights the winners and finalists from our recently completed 2020 Awards for Excellence. There is also a feature article from the judges who provide some key insights into what they look for each year and exclusive articles with our two individual winners Tamara Smith (Women in Leadership) and Fenualla O’Brien (Young Development Professional).

This edition will be launched at our Industry Breakfast event on Wednesday, which closes for registrations tomorrow. To register, click here.

State Conference provides inspired look at future development in WA

Following some initial trepidation around if COVID-19 restrictions would impact on our annual sojourn to Bunker Bay for the 2021 UDIA WA State Conference, it was all systems go after the Premier lifted the lockdown in early February.

The conference this year focused on themes of Resilience, Recovery and Renewal with a carefully curated program relevant to our current global and local context, centred on how the development industry can increase resilience, navigate the recovery and renew business focus and activity in the coming years.

To read a full overview of this year’s State Conference, click here.

Policy Priorities 2021

UDIA WA’s Western Australian Policy Priorities 2021: Developing WA as the place to live, work and invest details the focus of our advocacy efforts over the next 12 months.

The UDIA WA Council and Executive has concentrated on delivering a policy platform for the year ahead that centres on a collaborative approach between industry and government and recognises the importance of our industry to the broader economy.

The priorities build on a consistent theme from previous years, breaking down our recommendations into three key pillars:

  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Liveability

Our priorities in 2021 are an extension of our State Election Campaign launched in late 2020 that focuses on ensuring WA is a place of choice to live, work and invest.

In terms of immediate measures, the actions around fixing the rental crisis and reforming taxation measures as well as population growth are of key importance in the coming months as we look beyond the impact of the stimulus measures.

Looking more broadly, one of the most important outcomes stemming from COVID-19 is the spirit of collaboration that has been developed between industry and government agencies. As part of our priorities this year, we are encouraging a collaborative regulatory culture.

The urban development industry is dedicated to developing WA as the place to live, work and invest, and our policy platform provides the framework to facilitate that. We are future focused, considering how industry, government and the community can work together to make a difference for generations to come.

The full document is available here.

Fixing the rental crisis

There are key actions in our 2021 policy document directly related to addressing the rental crisis in WA.

We have produced a standalone document outlining this key priority area in more detail and offering real solutions to how to fix this critical issue.

Long-term decline in property investors has reduced Perth’s supply of rental homes, which coupled with an increase in population throughout 2020 as residents have returned from interstate and overseas has driven the rental vacancy rate to less than 1%.

With the rental market at full capacity, price and availability pressures will severely undermine WA’s opportunities to attract highly skilled workers to support the growth and diversification of our economy.

The most effective solution to the current rental emergency is to incentivise investors to purchase newly completed apartments, immediately presenting stock to market and having a positive effect on the current vacancy rate.

This document is available here.

Activity Centres Submission

This week UDIA WA lodged a submission regarding the Draft State Planning Policy 4.2 – Activity Centres.

Through the Government’s ‘Our Priorities’ agenda, the METRONET program and the Perth and Peel @3.5m Sub-regional Framework’s urban infill targets, the State has set out a clear agenda to focus development and increase density within activity centres.

While UDIA fully supports the policy outcomes that the SPP seeks to achieve, specifically, ensuring the primacy of activity centres in the planning hierarchy, UDIA has suggested a range of recommendations to the draft SPP, including:

  • The threshold definitions of major development are revised to better support and encourage development in activity centres;
  • That the WAPC engage with all stakeholders including the development industry, to prepare Implementation Plan for SPP4.2 Activity Centres and SPP7.2 Precinct Design;
  • That the WAPC establish appropriate procedures for ensuring compliance with the policy including an efficient review and amendment process for Precinct Plans; and
  • That the density targets are redefined as minimum density target, or alternatively are revised upwards to more accurately reflect the SPP’s objectives and governments infill aspirations.

Whilst UDIA is supportive of the policy and intent, we wish to reiterate that the lack of a precinct structure plan should not prevent, delay, jeopardise or add undue uncertainty to development in activity centres.

To view the submission in full, click here.

Infrastructure Priority List 2021

Last week saw the launch of Infrastructure Australia’s 2021 Infrastructure Priority List, which this year includes a record number of new investment opportunities, which reflects the changing infrastructure needs of Australia’s cities, regions and remote communities in the wake of COVID-19.

This year’s Priority List features a record 44 new infrastructure proposals for Australia’s cities, regions and remote communities – the largest number of new proposals ever added to the Priority List. More than half of these proposals impact regional communities.

This edition of the Priority List provides a $59 Billion pipeline of nationally-significant investment opportunities. Key themes in this edition include:

  • developing gateways to support our international competitiveness
  • investment in new sources of energy
  • water security
  • regional infrastructure that drives economic development, service quality, digital connectivity and digital health services.

The Priority List is a key reference point to guide government investment and this year see a further 10 projects moving off the Priority List and into the construction phase.

For more information and to read the Infrastructure Priority List 2021, click here.


The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) recently held a briefing regarding changes to the Part 17 Significant Development pathway.

The new Part 17 significant development application process has been in operation for the past six months.

To improve efficiency and ensure design review occurs at the optimal time in the assessment process, some changes are being made to the design review process for all projects accessing the Part 17 pathway.

At the recent briefing, the WAPC Chairman, Government Architect and Chief Planning Advisor explained the new process as follows:

In order to obtain a timely and clear recommendation from the State Design Review Panel in respect of any proposed development, proposals will no longer be presented for design review until key assessment considerations have been demonstrated to the State Development Assessment Unit. Proponents will be required to first clarify how projects have had regard for:

    • the purpose and intent of the local planning scheme; and 
    • orderly and proper planning, and the preservation of amenity of the locality; and
    • how the project responds to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
    • any relevant State planning policies, and any other relevant policies of the Commission.

This will ensure that any significant design alterations and key issues can occur before the proposal is presented to the State Design Review Panel, and before any lodgement of an application.

Undertaking design review before critical planning and COVID recovery matters are considered, may risk a project being rendered premature and invalid. 

Following the first six months of use, WAPC Chairman David Caddy provided the following review on what has been learnt so far.

“Design review does delve into the planning framework, perhaps a little more forensically than some proponents would imagine that it should, but it is important that the State Design Review Panel is actually reviewing a proposal that the Commission is, within reason, able to approve,” he said. “Granted that Part 17 of the legislation bestows upon the Commission a perceived seemingly unlimited level of discretion, the reality is that the discretion must be exercised responsibly.

“By way of example the State Design Review Panel has reviewed some projects 4 or 5 times before an application is lodged and prior to the proponent having actually addressed the planning framework. This is an inordinate waste of resources within the State Development Assessment Unit and the State Design Review Panel and actually costs your clients more time and money.

“Before applying to come into the Part 17 pathway it would be expected that preliminary investigations have been completed to identify what the constraints to development might be for your client’s site and that this information has informed the appropriate scale, form and design approach for the development and the appropriate uses for the site.

“It is also timely to inform you that for applications using the State Design Review Panel for Part 17 reviews, the ‘traffic lights’ mechanism in reports will no longer be used. The Government Architect and SDRP support sdrp@dplh.wa.gov.au welcome your feedback on this approach to help inform future process improvements.

“My very simple message is to request that you please apply to come into the Part 17 pathway with a degree of clarification as to how your project will be financed to ensure that substantial commencement can occur within the timeframes likely to be granted by the Commission [up to 24-months], how it might comply with the applicable planning framework and then how it may benefit from a reasonable exercise of discretion, if required.”

Bushfire Framework Review update

As part of the Bushfire Review Framework, the CSIRO is continuing to analyse sample maps to aid the creation of a draft new Map of Bushfire Prone Areas, for the whole State.

The draft new Map, and revised State Planning Policy 3.7 Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas (SPP 3.7) and associated Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas (Guidelines), are expected to be released for public consultation later in 2021.

As part of the ongoing review of the bushfire policy framework, the Western Australian Planning Commission is considering Version 1.4 of the Guidelines, which is anticipated to be published following the March State Government election.

Changes from Version 1.3 include:

  • a revised Element 4 – Water
  • adding the Position Statement: Tourism land uses in bushfire prone areas into a new Element 5 – Tourism Land uses bushfire protection criteria and rescinding the Position Statement
  • adapting section ‘5 Exemptions’ from Planning Bulletin 111/2016 – Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas (PB 111/2016) into section ‘2.6 Discretionary decision-making’ and rescinding PB 111/2016
  • adding a new section ‘2.7 Legacy approvals issued prior to SPP 3.7 (2015) that inform subsequent stages of the planning process’, to provide guidance for discretionary decision-making for legacy sites
  • a number of minor amendments.

A review of Element 3 – Access is continuing and will be included in the next version (1.5) of the Guidelines.