Statutory Town Planning involves the regulations and management of changes to land use and development. This legislative component of the profession is becoming more important as the framework in WA is rapidly changing and opening up opportunities for developers and private landowners.
We provide specialist town planning input to development and change of use applications either as part of a multi-disciplinary team, or as the lead consultant coordinating and directing the input of a range of specialists and undertaking negotiations with approval authorities.
In an ideal world, each of the State’s local authorities would adopt a uniform approach to implementing and interpreting legislative framework. Hemsley Planning understands the preferences and different policies of each local authority to identify issues before they arise and develop and appropriate submission strategy.
Change of Use
A Change of Use application is a critical, albeit often forgotten part of the town planning system. What may appear to be a simple change of use application can be complicated by a host of town planning considerations, including:
- Hours of operation;
- Car parking;
- Car parking credits; and
- Design guidelines.
Hemsley Planning has considerable experience investigating and lodging planning applications. In some instances, the professional town planners from Hemsley Planning has been able to demonstrate that some change of use applications were not required as the proposed use was consistent with the previous use of the building or land. Equally, Hemsley Planning has assisted individuals and businesses (including franchises) benefit from car parking concessions or negotiating more favourable cash-in-lieu outcomes.
Our professional town planning services for change of use include:
- Review of the strategic and statutory planning framework;
- Liaison with local authority officers;
- Discovery and review of previous approvals for the land and buildings [including Freedom of Information (FOI) applications, archival plan searches and reviewing non-conforming use rights];
- Preparation and lodgement of applications;
- Drafting of supporting plans;
- Canvassing of Councillors; and
- Depositions and attendance of Council meetings.
As town planning consultants, Hemsley Planning has also assisted individuals and businesses to apply for and secure retrospective planning approvals. In doing so, our services have enabled already established businesses to continue to operate where operating circumstances may have inadvertently changed.
Our expertise has assisted many new businesses in securing approval, and assisted existing businesses to expand and/or relocate to new premises in a coordinated, planned and professional manner.
Development Applications (DAs)
Development Applications typically form the final part of the town planning process in Western Australia – generally following local planning strategies, scheme amendment, rezoning, structure planning and detailed structure planning (in the form of Local Development Plans). Hemsley Planning has a history contributing to design development, preparing, lodging and securing approvals for a range of Development Applications.
Hemsley Planning’s experience extends to a wide range of applications, including:
- Mixed use and multiple dwelling developments;
- Grouped and single housing;
- Shopping centres;
- Commercial buildings – showrooms; and (but limited to)
- Private recreation.
Hemsley Planning has acted for a wide range of clients including:
- Real estate developers;
- Individual homeowners;
- Owner-occupiers; and
- Institutional developers.
Importantly, the development application process provides the potential for decision-making authorities (including local authorities, Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority and the WA Planning Commission), to exercise discretion. Discretion has the ability to value-add to a development project or provides for better design solutions. For the most part, discretion may be sought for car parking, building height, plot ratio, building setbacks as well as many other development standards applicable to development.
Where the value of a development is greater than $2million, an applicant may opt to have the application determined by a Development Assessment Panel or Joint Development Assessment Panel process (DAP or JDAP). Hemsley Planning can assist in lodging applications as part of the JDAP and DAP process. For the most part, the DAP process provides for a more technical assessment whereas the local authorities may be the subject of local political issues.
Hemsley Planning considers it is imperative for it to be engaged/consulted early in the due diligence and/or design development process. In doing so, Hemsley Planning can assist in design development, local authority liaison and critically assess a development proposal to ensure the greatest likelihood of success, value-adding and/or minimising delays.
Scheme Amendments, Rezoning, Additional Use
Hemsley has considerable experience in the preparation of Scheme Amendments. Our experience has extended to a wide range of scheme amendments, including:
- Rezoning – rural, urban, residential, rural-residential, landscape, city centre;
- Amendments to change density coding – R Code amendments;
- Complex amendments – including detailed text amendments to local authority schemes to permit large master planned estates, commercial centres and multiple dwelling developments; and
- Additional use amendments – a site specific amendment to a local town planning scheme allowing a specific use.
Many scheme amendments need to be supported by co-consultant reports including traffic, environmental, acoustic, civil engineering, land capability assessment and architectural. Hemsley has successfully worked with project teams, and in many cases, project-managed consultant teams, to ensure the timely success of rezonings and scheme amendments.
Structure Plans/Activity Centre Plans/Local Development Plans
Changes to the planning framework made through the Planning Regulations and State Planning Policy 4.2, have established a more certain hierarchy to the structure planning process. District Structure Plans (DSPs) form the key planning instrument for guiding urban growth – typically on the fringe. Activity Centre Plans (ACPs) will become the chief planning instrument for defining land use, built form and activation around existing and future activity centres – typically on high-frequency transport routes, existing commercial centres and around redevelopment areas.
Due Diligence & Planning Investigation
The increasing complexity of the town planning system means it has become vitally important for many development projects to be supported by a preliminary planning investigation prior to purchasing land, or preparing and submitted development and subdivisions applications.
There are an increasing number of changes and additions to the planning system which require constant review and investigation, including:
- Addition of the new Planning Regulations;
- Changes to structure planning – including Activity Centre Plans;
- Development Assessment Panels (DAPs);
- Bushfire Management (including bushfire management plans and bushfire attack level assessments BAL); and
- Ongoing constant changes to the Residential Planning Codes.
It is vital in many cases to conduct a thorough investigation of the planning framework as part of the due diligence process; whether that is pre-purchase due diligence, or due diligence prior to the preparation and lodgement of subdivision and development application plans. A thorough due diligence planning investigation can determine many key factors:
- Status of the statutory and strategic framework;
- Likelihood of success;
- Potential for discretion to be exercised – potentially adding value to a project; and
- Whether modifications to a proposed application should be made to ensure there are limited delays in assessment and determination, or potentially, the highest likelihood of success.
The outcomes of the preliminary town planning investigation will allow Hemsley Planning to make recommendations relating to:
- Compliance requirements;
- Detailed design, master planning and value adding (additional height and plot ratio, car parking concessions etc);
- Need for additional co-consultants – including traffic, environmental and acoustic; and
- Lodgement strategy.
Hemsley Planning considers the planning investigation process a key part of the due diligence exercise and has the capability and capacity to assist existing and potential clients.