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  5. Building Contractors, Local Governments and Homeowners be Aware of New Legal Rights and Responsibilities
9 Dec 2014

WA is expected to see significant changes to its planning laws as a result of the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2014 and the Land Acquisition Legislation Amendment (Compensation) Bill 2014. While the new laws are generally well-received, building contractors, local governments and homeowners should still be wary of their new legal rights and responsibilities.

It is likely that the Legislative Council will tinker with the legislation before it finally becomes law.  However, the key features are likely to remain as they are.  In their current form, the new regulations will dispense with the need for planning approval for minor building works. Eliminating this red tape for builders and home owners has the potential to save significant time and costs. Currently, such work requires a building permit, which means submitting a Building Permit Application Form and copies of the plans and specifications to the Building Services Board. Depending on the type of application and whether the Council requires further information, the assessment can take up to two months. Under the new Regulations, planning approval is not required for the erection or extension of a single dwelling, ancillary dwelling, outbuilding, external fixture, patio, pergola, veranda or swimming pool as long as the lot is not heritage related and the development satisfies the Residential Design Codes. While it is ultimately for the courts to interpret this new legislation, we expect that much, if not all, of the responsibility for quality control in the course of building works will rest with building surveyors.

Landowners are set to be compensated for public works carried out on their property. The Bill will see landowners receive ‘just compensation’ for land acquired by government agencies in providing essential services, including installing power lines, water pipes, communications cables and roads. There are concerns, however, that this change will increase the rate of compulsory acquisitions by government agencies. These concerns are set to be debated further in Parliament and once the Bill becomes publicly available.

The proposed Regulations are available for public comment until 30 January 2015. The Regulations can be found at [http://bit.ly/1w01Tzr] and public comments can be sent by email to: lpsregulations@planning.wa.gov.au.  It will be some time before the Regulations are finalised and implemented. In the meantime, HHG will provide rolling updates of important developments affecting WA’s planning laws and will be pleased to advise you about your legal rights and obligations along the way. 

This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

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