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The Planning System & Housing


Urban and regional planning influences the form and function of our cities and towns.  It includes land use and zoning, transportation systems, and strategic planning for future growth.  Planning decisions shape the location, design and availability of housing.  These decisions, which involve both technical and political considerations, can have a favourable or detrimental impact on the provision of affordable housing.


  • The current population of Western Australia is set to double to 5.6 million by 2056. [i]


  • By 2050, Perth will need between an additional 700,000 dwellings to accommodate its growing population. [ii] The Department of Planning (2010) proposes that to meet projected demand for 2031, 47% of these additional dwellings can be achieved through in-fill. [iii]


  • This growth will require a change in current development trends in Perth, which tend to favour low density urban sprawl.


  • The WA Department of Planning’s Directions 2031 calls for increases to the current average residential density within Perth, from 10 dwellings per hectare to 15 dwellings, in the urban area.  Increasing density requires changes in state and local government policy, as well as changes in developer and community perceptions of higher density housing. [iv]


  • The location and density of housing will be an important part of planning for WA‘s future to ensure housing affordability. Clear planning mechanisms are needed to ensure that increased supply is affordable to low and moderate income households, and that this housing is located close to transport, employment and amenities.


  • Planning approaches for affordable housing can include: planning to protect existing sources of affordable housing which may be at risk due to redevelopment; planning to promote new affordable housing; and using the planning system to generate or produce new sources of housing, affordable to low and middle income groups. [v]


  • In WA, there are a number of government bodies responsible for making decisions related to land use planning. These include the State government, Development Assessment Panels, local governments, redevelopment authorities and LandCorp. There are also non-government stakeholders who affect housing supply and typology, such as private and not-for-profit developers. It is important to understand how various government bodies make planning decision that affect affordable housing, detailed here:
    • State government has overall control of land use planning decisions, including planning for housing, at a strategic level. The State Government also create policies detailing legal requirements which local governments must conform to. State policy, for example, requires local governments to create Local Planning Schemes and Town Planning Schemes and update these documents every 5 and 10 years respectively.


    • Development Assessment Panels were formed by the State government on 1 st July 2011 to control larger scale developments of significant importance to Perth. Any development over $7 million is assessed by one of 15 DAPs across metropolitan and regional WA.


    • Local governments conform to and enforce State government strategies and policies on a local level. They enforce land use planning through Local Planning Strategies and Town Planning Schemes and occasionally Local/Affordable Housing Strategies (though these are not a State requirement). Local Governments also process development applications made by private and not-for-profit developers.


    • Redevelopment Authorities do not have to conform to local government land use policies, as they make their own land use decisions according to State policy.


    • LandCorp receives crown land and determines its sale price depending on market conditions. Though they have different roles, Redevelopment Authorities and LandCorp both deliver housing and land options in combination with private and not-for-profit developers.



Australian Housing and Research Institute (AHURI) - f requently publishes material related to housing and planning.

Directions 2031 and Beyond -

Delivering Directions 2031 – Annual Report Card -

Shelter WA Local Government Guide to Developing an Affordable Housing Strategy –

NSW Centre for Affordable Housing - contains extensive material on how planning systems can be used to support housing affordability –

Planning Institute of Australia

State Planning Strategy 2050 –

Urban Development Institute of Australia

WA Department of Planning and Planning Commission –


Last updated June 2015

[i] Department of Planning. (2015). State Planning Strategy 2050 . Perth, Western Australia: Author

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Department of Planning (2010). Directions 2031 and Beyond: Metropolitan Planning Beyond the Horizon. Perth: Western Australian Planning Commission

[iv] Ibid

[v] Housing NSW (2013). Planning Mechanisms for Affordable Housing . Available from

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