The West Australian

Both the State’s key property lobby groups are backing Planning Minister Rita Saffioti’s move to introduce a WA State Design Review Panel, citing the need for clarity and better outcomes for local communities.

Ms Saffioti last month asked built environment experts to apply for positions on the panel, to provide independent advice to improve the design of buildings and infrastructure projects.

“It’s not just about the aesthetics. It’s about good design that allows for people and families to enjoy the city and regional developments,” Ms Saffioti said.

“Good design also has the potential to create savings in water use, electricity use and maintenance — making developments and infrastructure, overall, a lesser burden on residents.

“This is a genuine step forward for smarter buildings with more potential for quality residential dwellings, and more opportunities for Western Australians to love where they live.”

Urban Development Institute of Australia WA chief executive Tanya Steinbeck said the key to quality design was ensuring there was a clear vision for an area from the outset.

“Where there is a failure to clearly articulate the design intent, this has created uncertainty for the community and the development industry,” Ms Steinbeck said.

UDIA WA is pushing for a greater focus on medium density housing, which is on the WA Planning Commission’s agenda.

Property Council of Australia WA executive director Sandra Brewer urged the State Government to ensure there was a consistent and efficient model for local government design review panels.

“Clear guidance . . . on a common approach . . . (will result in) better development outcomes for local communities,” Ms Brewer said.  PCA WA says the precinct design component of Design WA as well as the medium density design policy are significant steps forward.

Ms Steinbeck said clear policy, ensuring local governments had appropriate precinct plans and “a range of product” would allow the industry to show the community the benefits of “sensible density”.

“Good design should not be the exclusive domain of those who can afford it,” Ms Steinbeck said. “It is vitally important that development delivers benefits to all West Australians.”