Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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Housing Policy

Labor’s Plan to Streamline the Planning and Housing Approval System (Stage One)

WA LABOR’S PLANS

1. APPOINT A SINGLE HOUSING AND PLANNING MINISTER RESPONSIBLE FOR FIXING THE HOUSING AND PLANNING SYSTEMS

To seriously tackle Western Australia’s housing challenges, Labor will appoint a minister responsible for housing and planning who can address both housing affordability and planning issues at the same time. It is important to have one minister responsible for both government departments to ensure there is consistent and coordinated action on both fronts at the same time.

2. FAST-TRACK GOVERNMENT LAND REDEVELOPMENT

It is concerning that at the end of last year, 5,327 hectares of Department of Housing land alone remained undeveloped, including 2,990 hectares in the metropolitan area and 2,337 hectares outside the metropolitan area which includes the Peel Region Scheme.

The department holds land in high-demand areas such as Henley Brook, Mirrabooka, Southern River and West Swan. Outside of the metropolitan area, the department owns land in areas like Albany, Collie and South Hedland which have cost pressures affecting the affordability of housing for local residents.

WA Labor will fast-track the development of State Government land in high-demand areas.

3. AUDIT OF CROWN LAND

Other government departments and agencies, such as Landcorp, own significant tracts of land in high-demand areas. A focused approach is needed to bring this land on for development as soon as possible. A minister responsible for both housing and planning with control of both agencies would make this far easier to make a reality.

WA Labor will audit Crown land with the aim of getting agencies to release land which could be used for transport or housing.

4. PLANNING LEGISLATION CHANGES

Some councils are making it unnecessarily difficult for people building homes to get their planning approvals through. On the other hand, some councils have reviewed their planning requirements and have only building approvals to allow for easier approval and construction of new homes. As a result, some planning and building approvals can take a few weeks with some councils while with others the process can take up to or more than a year.

This poses additional costs, pressure and stress on home builders throughout Western Australia.

To relieve this burden, WA Labor will reform the planning and building laws to:

  1. Ensure that for single residential dwellings, if the property receives building approval and complies with Residential Design Codes (Rcodes), it will not require individual planning approval from the local authority; and
  2. Ensure that construction of other residences which don’t comply with R codes will be required to have the building and planning approvals undertaken simultaneously, and not consecutively. This will save individual home builders and subcontractors and companies from unnecessary expense.

5. PRIVATE CERTIFICATION AND DEEMED APPROVALS

Under the new building laws there is now capacity for private certification of building licences which is supported by Labor. This
allows for streamlining of building approvals and competition and choice in the provision of such licences.

However, if a local government authority does not provide building approvals at the expiry of two weeks from the date of submission of the building licence application then the application is deemed to be refused and the builder will need to apply to the State Administrative Tribunal to overturn that refusal. This can be very expensive for home builders and the building industry in Western Australia.

A better solution would be provide for deemed approval at the expiry of a two-week period following the submission of a building licence application as this would ensure a far quicker turnaround of building licences and provide for less cost on home builders. Labor will therefore amend the Building Act to provide for deemed approvals.

6. HIGHER DENSITY DEVELOPMENT

In the Barnett Government’s Directions 2031 document, the State’s aspirational target of 60 per cent of new dwellings being urban infill in the future was reduced to 47 per cent.

Labor will once again increase the aim for high infill development so as to provide more housing in closer proximity to job opportunities, transport links, schools, universities and social opportunities.

It is very important that we do not allow Perth to endlessly sprawl and that we encourage high levels of urban infill so that people are able to live near important facilities. This also saves money on the construction on new transport, educational and health facilities and ensures better usage of existing infrastructure. Labor will ensure that more urban infill particularly using government land is put in place in the future.

CONCLUSION

WA Labor is committed to reducing the regulatory burden on business by streamlining inefficient processes which are making it difficult to cater for the needs of a growing State. It is important that housing and land should be affordable to regular Western Australians, higher density development is encouraged, mixed-use developments are common and the development industry is not stifled by unnecessary bureaucracy.

The #wa2013vote website will be kept online so politicians promises and statements can be checked until the end of next WA election in 2017, and after.