In Western Australia, planning laws control the use and development of land within a particular district or region, and most new developments require approval under the state’s planning laws. Developments carried out under other legislation such as the Mining Act 1978, however, are excluded. The Planning and Development Act 2005 is the main legislation that governs planning in Western Australia.
Local planning schemes are administered by local governments and provide a basic template for the development of land in a local area by controlling what types of development can occur and where.
Different land uses can be designated as permitted, prohibited, or requiring the discretion of the relevant local government authority. A person is required to obtain a development approval from the local government before carrying out any development.
There are also region planning schemes in place in Western Australia, which usually include land within more than one local government area. These are administered by the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) and assist strategic planning, coordinate major infrastructure, and set aside areas for regional open space and other community purposes.
If a development proposes a land use that is not permitted under the existing zoning of the local planning scheme or region planning scheme, the relevant authority may initiate an amendment to the planning scheme to permit the proposed land use to be considered in that zone.
Local governments are responsible for determining development applications on land within their local planning scheme areas, while the WAPC is responsible for determining development applications on land within a region planning scheme areas.
In circumstances where an area is regarded as being a state priority and where the land has particular issues which require coordinated development, the WAPC may prepare an improvement plan and improvement scheme over this area.
There is some overlap between planning approvals and environmental approvals, as the local government or WAPC must consider whether the development should be referred to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) if the proposal may have environmental impacts and has not undergone an environmental assessment prior to lodgement.