WA seeking ‘balance’ in medium-density development planning

By Melissa Coade

Thursday June 3, 2021

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Local government leaders from across Australia are most concerned about digital transformation and the wellbeing of their communities post-COVID. (Image: Tap10/Adobe)

The Western Australian government is reviewing submissions on its proposed medium-density development policy, with signs of broad support for suburban tree canopies and more outdoor living areas.

A review of more than 220 submissions to the WA government over its draft policy on medium density is currently underway, with the state government promising further consultation before finalising the reforms.

WA transport, planning and ports minister Rita Saffioti said submissions from industry groups, local governments and members of the public indicated ‘broad support’ for residential developments up to four storeys.

“I am pleased with the level of support for this fresh approach to medium-density development,” she said. 

Saffioti added that improving the design quality of residential developments of this kind would ‘increase housing diversity and choice’.

“This promises excellent outcomes for our built environment and doesn’t repeat the same pattern of triplex or multi-unit density and loss of tree canopies we have seen across our suburbs over the past 20-to-30 years.”

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is now refining and testing the policy settings with the latest submissions in mind. It will move to the next stage of engaging stakeholders and feasibility tests over the next year with implementation of the finalised code expected by the second half of 2022.

Saffioti said that she had heard community and industry feedback calling for extra consultation on key policy provisions and changes to the proposed implementation and transition timeline. 

“We know the housing industry is under significant delivery pressure, so we will lengthen our delivery program and take this time to test proposals put forward from industry and the community to develop a policy that works for all users of the planning system.”

Commenting on the draft planning policy, which the McGowan government is touting as a ‘key pillar’ of its planning reform agenda, Saffioti said that ensuring design excellence remained central to new developments would deliver lasting benefits to WA.

“Over the coming years, this will guide the right balance of density across existing suburbs and in new METRONET communities, bringing vibrancy, diversity of housing and environmental benefits for future generations of Western Australians,” the minister said.

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