Planning Exemptions

Changes to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 have been introduced to allow the Minister for Planning to issue notices to exempt some planning requirements to respond to and recover from an emergency declared under the Emergency Management Act.

On 8 April 2020, a Notice of Exemption (the Notice) was issued in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The Notice has been issued to provide specific guidance to both proponents and local government on a range of temporary exemptions for certain approvals and requirements within the local planning framework. These exemptions will remain in effect until 90 days after the end of the State of Emergency.

The exemptions remove any barriers within the planning system to ensure flexible and speedy responses to a changing crisis environment, support business and guarantee the provision of essential community services.

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage’s (DPLH) dedicated State of Emergency – planning changes webpage provides:

  • An overview of the State of Emergency Planning Changes
  • The signed Notice of Exemption
  • An Explanatory Notes document to assist with interpretation of the Notice
  • Template letters for proponents (landowners, business operators, applicants) to use to notify potentially impacted neighbours
  • Frequently Asked Questions.

On 18 December 2020, the Planning Regulation Amendment Regulations 2020 were gazetted by the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC). These amendments introduce various improvements to local planning processes and the first stage of these changes became operational on 15 February 2021. In the context of development applications, the amendments generally relate to the following:

  • Exemption of small residential developments (such as some patios, water tanks, cubby houses etc),
  • The introduction of a ‘deemed-to-comply’ check process so a preliminary assessment can be undertaken by the local government to determine if planning approval is required for single houses, as well as
  • Removing the need for planning approval for certain change of use applications.

The Regulation amendments will mean some of the City’s processes will change, so people who frequently do business with the City’s Planning Services may find the assessment process different to normal practice. This includes (but not limited to) requiring all of the necessary information up-front as part of the application and the City only sending one ‘request for information’ for non-complex applications to address any issues identified during the assessment.

In addition, some of the City’s policies and information sheets will be superseded by the changes introduced by WAPC. The City is currently in the process of updating the City’s documents, but in the meantime, if any inconsistency exists between the Regulations and City’s information, the Regulations will prevail.

As a result, certain development which currently requires planning approval may be exempt from 15 February 2021. For further information on the specific exemptions under the Amendment Regulations, please visit the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage website.