Planning by the pricetag

The Roofing 2000 site on the corner of Canning and Stirling highways was approved as a “significant development” by the WAPC last week.

WHEN the foundation president of WA’s State Administrative Tribunal, former chair of the WA Town Planning Appeals Tribunal and a former judge of both the Supreme Court of WA and Federal Court of Australia took a broadside at WA’s current planning processes, it certainly caught the Chook’s attention, as well as a host of readers who said we should feature it on our front page!

MICHAEL BARKER is also the editor of the Fremantle Shipping News, where you can find the rest of his thought-provoking article, and he told the Chook that he hoped his pretty pointed critique could be the start of a broader conversation with the community about the planning power-shift to an increasingly smaller clique of decision-makers, and how we could get back to better “community planning principles”.

Head to and scroll down to the article on the front page, or go directly to:

What are your thoughts: Do you feel the development industry is getting a free ride while the community suffers from poor decision-making? Send your thoughts to:

LAST Wednesday, May 11, 2023, the development application for the 19 storey, $85 million The Entrance apartment and commercial development at the corner of Canning Highway and Stirling Highway, East Fremantle, was approved by the Western Australian Planning Commission under the temporary, Part 17 of the Planning and Development Act 2005.

This approval, along with the WAPC’s approval on the same day, also under Part 17, of a $311 million expansion of St John of God Subiaco Hospital, brings the total value of 23 applications approved under Part 17, since July 2020, to more than $3.14 billion.


Without any apparent sense of irony, the WAPC refers to Part 17 as the ‘significant development pathway’.

The Entrance development, the WAPC said in an announcement made Friday, will “bring $85 million of investment to the Fremantle area and create up to 93 new apartments”.

In announcing The Entrance approval and the hospital expansion, the 

WAPC trumpeted the investment value and the number of jobs the 23 approved applications will supposedly create – 17,000.

The WAPC further announced that that these two developments ‘are two of seven State-significant applications worth more than $824 million expected to be considered by the WAPC over the next few months.’

As to the remaining five applications soon to come before it, it appears the WAPC’s approval of each is a fait accompli, having regard to what the WAPC added in its announcement: “The Commission is looking forward to considering the other five applications expected to come before it over the next few months and continuing to play a part in encouraging high-calibre significant developments around the state.”

From this it would appear that once an application has been considered appropriate for assessment under the significant development pathway as a ‘State-significant development’, it’s approval is virtually a given, in that the WAPC’s decision-making is driven primarily, not by whether a proposed development accords with the community planning principles of proper and orderly planning, but by the size of its price tag and how many jobs it is said it will create. 

The fact that every one of the 23 applications so far considered under the significant development pathway has been approved by the WAPC, rather makes the point that economic planning principles now dominate decision-making under Part 17

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