Policy and Advocacy Update – WA Chapter

The first quarter of 2022 has brought much growth to the WA Chapter, operationally, with the appointment of Adam Johnson-Kain as the new State Manager, and in terms of elevated advocacy activity with high volume of submission lodgements and roundtable participation. We thank all the active members, Chapter Council and the Urban Design Committee who have contributed to the workshops that informed our submissions and policy positions.

Alongside the ACA, we made a submission to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries in response to the proposed Local Government Reforms. We commended on the Department on the general aims of the proposed reforms of achieving greater consistency, transparency, rigour, and good processes across local authorities in Western Australia. We further articulated additional priorities surrounding themes of First Nations recognition and engagement, Climate Change and Procurement. 

Further to our Reforms to the approval process for commercial buildings in Western Australia submission 2019, we provided subsequent advice in response to the Reformed process for approving and documenting variations under the Building Act 2011 to implement recommendation 16 of the Building Confidence Report. We will continue to work with the Department of Building and Energy to ensure that future of building regulation best reflects the intent of the Building Confidence Report, promoting the high-level competency, skillset and thus surety that architects can offer to all building projects in WA. 

The Safer Places by Design submission is the latest response to the stages of Planning Reform in WA. We have provided general support of the Draft Guidelines with suggested improvements around themes of place activation/attendance, designing for diversity and pedestrian prioritisation. We have also provided additional feedback on case-studies and good example clarifications on diagrams.

Our response to the City of Perth’s Draft Local Planning was generally supportive with suggested improvements around themes of visionary long-term concept/s, city transit system, connectivity, strengthening neighbourhoods and collaboration to ensure broader application of concepts.

The Federal Budget was recently examined by our team of Policy and Advocacy Managers around the country, and a response was prepared. With the election around the corner, we have been working hard on our pre-election asks. Look out for the Media Statement coming soon.

We are currently participating in stakeholder engagement workshops in response to the proposed SPP7.3 Medium Density Code. It appears that the Department has taken steps to ensure many of our comments relating to façade articulation, setbacks and ceiling heights. However, we highlighted that the latest proposed changes in deep soil (minimising requirements) and parking amendments (re-introducing minimums) may impede on the success of implementation of some of the aims of the Code. We look forward to reviewing the final draft of the document, once approved by the WAPC. Read our media statement supporting the Code, our 2021 submission and watch the short Medium Density film.

In the next month, we look forward to drafting a response to the DPLH Design Assessment Panel (DAP) Reforms, which propose significant reforms to the membership and jurisdiction of District DAPs (currently JDAPs) and the introduction of a Special Matters DAP. This regulation reform will impact the process of planning approvals for a significant majority of projects in Western Australia and follows a stakeholder engagement process.