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If you are planning on any kind of property development in WA or any other Australian state, you will need to consult with property lawyers to ensure you are allowed to do what you want to achieve your end goals. In WA, there are four main bodies that regulate and control planning and development. This ensures that land use is properly regulated and no one is able to for example, build a factory in a residential area, or for that matter develop a residential area in land zoned for industrial purposes.

Who are these bodies?

  1. The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC): this body is responsible for controlling the planning and development of land regulated by regional planning schemes. In some cases it can delegate this responsibility to the local authority.
  2. The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure: the Minister can direct or authorise any changes, repeals or consolidations in state planning policies, or local planning schemes by the WAPC.
  3. Development Assessment Panels (DAP): These bodies for the approvals of certain developments that meet specific requirements and criteria such as type and value thresholds. There are local DAPs for individual local authority areas that determine what application developments are allowed. In addition, there can be joint DAPs where the local authorities overlap.
  4. Local authorities: these are responsible for local planning and development approvals that fall within the local planning scheme area of local authorities. In some cases, local authorities may need to send a development plan to other bodies such as the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Department of Environment Regulation, The Department of Water or The WAPC, depending on what the development is and what area it is in.

Before any development gets the green light, these bodies must examine it to ensure it is consistent with proper planning and whether it reflects on any environmental attributes of the land, such as a wetland area. It’s important to get all the details and land classifications correct on any plan for development if you want it to be approved. Even getting one small detail wrong can result at worst, in no approval being given or at best, a delay in the approval as you then have to start again with the correct details.

As an example, it is especially important for developments in the Swan Coastal Plain area, which, although classified as a wetland to start with, 80% of it has disappeared and what’s left has been modified to a great extent. So if you are planning some development in that area that includes part of the wetlands, it’s important to know whether that area is actually classified as a wetland area or not, because if so that could negatively impact the development approval.