New planning laws are coming to the Swan Valley

The Minister for Planning has announced an overhaul of the planning laws that apply in the Swan Valley, with the introduction to Parliament of the Swan Valley Planning Bill 2020 (Bill), which if made into law, will repeal the Swan Valley Planning Act 1995 (WA) (SVP Act).

Whereas the SVP Act currently functions essentially as an additional layer of planning oversight for the Swan Valley, alongside the City of Swan Local Planning Scheme No 17 (LPS17) and the Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS), the Bill proposes to allow for the creation of a special Swan Valley Planning Scheme, which would effectively replace LPS17 and the MRS in the Swan Valley.  In this respect, the Bill is conceptually similar to the Hope Valley-Wattleup Redevelopment Act 2000 (WA), but instead of enabling industrial redevelopment, is designed to give special protection to the Swan Valley as a rural and tourism area.

Assuming that the Bill becomes law, then upon its creation, the Swan Valley Planning Scheme would become the cornerstone planning instrument for assessing development and subdivision proposals in the Swan Valley.  The Swan Valley Planning Scheme would be administered by a committee of the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) to be known as the Swan Valley Statutory Planning Committee, but there will also be scope to delegate powers, including to the City of Swan.

The Bill provides that the Swan Valley Planning Scheme must:

  • embody the stated planning objectives in the Bill, which are similar in nature to those objectives currently set out in the SVP Act (and include, for example, the protection of viticulture);
  • contain controls in relation to minimum lot sizes, and where appropriate, prohibiting future subdivision; and
  • set out provisions in relation to avoiding or minimising land use conflict between traditional rural land uses and non-rural land uses that might be introduced into the Swan Valley.

Although it is not specifically stated in the Bill or the accompanying Explanatory Memorandum, the content of the Bill appears to embody an intention to limit or control any further ad-hoc subdivision or non-rural development in the Swan Valley, in order to preserve the traditional character of the area.

The Bill contemplates that the initial version of the Swan Valley Planning Scheme will be fast tracked, with a truncated process for community consultation and agency referral, which indicates an intention for the Swan Valley Planning Scheme to come into effect shortly after the Bill becomes law.  Indeed, the Minister for Planning in a press release has indicated an intention to have the Swan Valley Planning Scheme in place by early next year.

Despite the truncated process for the Swan Valley Planning Scheme to come into effect, the Bill still requires the WAPC to consult with any persons who may have an interest in the Swan Valley Planning Scheme, prior to it coming into force.

If you (or a client) are an owner of land in the Swan Valley, then you should monitor the progress of the Bill closely and make your views known to the WAPC prior to the Swan Valley Planning Scheme being finalised and coming into effect.  This is especially so if you have future subdivision or development aspirations for your land or if you are minded to protect the continued operation of some non-rural land use into the foreseeable future.

If you have any questions about the Bill, please do not hesitate to contact the Lavan Planning, Environment and Land Compensation Team.