Amid a housing supply crisis, today’s State Government announcement that the environmental approvals system will receive a long awaited and much needed overhaul, has been welcomed by the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA WA) as a critical step in addressing the growing crisis.

UDIA WA released research on the housing supply pipeline recently that highlighted environmental constraints as the top challenge when it comes to unlocking land that has been zoned for urban development for new housing.

“The development industry is acutely aware of the importance of conserving our environment and many go above and beyond when it comes to conservation measures, however, the timeframes and complexity within the environmental approvals system has become unwieldy,” UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck said.

“Delays to the approvals system add time and layers of cost that essentially get passed onto new home buyers,” Ms Steinbeck said. “That extra time and those added layers do not necessarily lead to better outcomes.”

“UDIA WA has been calling for a review and system overhaul for several years and we welcome today’s announcement as a huge step toward further streamlining an unnecessarily complex and layered environmental approvals process,” Ms Steinbeck said.

The State Government’s announcement today aligns with reforms proposed by UDIA WA, including the $18 million to reduce bottlenecks; changes to the Environmental Protection Act; allowing parallel assessments; and streamlining appeals processes.

“In making our recent recommendations to the State Government, UDIA WA outlined how the processes and timeframes involved in environmental assessments and native vegetation clearing permits can be a major constraint on timely and affordable housing development,” Ms Steinbeck said.

“Essentially, the current conservative (not risk-based) approach to assessments and ‘process over outcomes’ focus has led to many unnecessary and costly delays,” Ms Steinbeck said. “That approach in conjunction with poor collaboration and integration with other planning agencies such as the Department of Planning; Lands and Heritage will hopefully be addressed with these changes announced today.”

“Just because a system is long and complex, does not mean that the best outcomes are being achieved for the environment or home buyers,” Ms Steinbeck said.

“Today’s changes ensure the integrity of the environmental approvals system, while recognising the importance of supporting quality housing in locations that have already been earmarked for urban development under current planning frameworks,” Ms Steinbeck said.

While UDIA WA is supportive of today’s measures, there are still areas for improvement that will ensure a more strategic approach into the future.

“There is still work to be done in this space and UDIA WA will continue to advocate for a planning-led approach to environmental decision making and a strategic offsets framework for the Swan Coastal Plain, however in the interim, these measures are whole heartedly welcomed,” Ms Steinbeck said.



Gemma Osiejak

Executive Manager Communications & Engagement
P: 0421 506 819