The Planning Regulation 2017 (Planning Regulation) was amended on 21 October 2022 through the Planning (Emergency Housing) Amendment Regulation 2022 (Amendment Regulation).The Amendment Regulation amends the Planning Regulation to:
- provide for the establishment of emergency housing
- provide for the infrastructure designation pathway to be used for development of social or affordable housing by a community housing provider or under a State funded program. In simple terms community and private developments providing social/affordable housing (where funded by the State) will be given a ‘fast-track’ opportunity through the development assessment process.
The amendments will not affect the requirements to meet all relevant building provisions including fire safety to ensure the accommodation is safe.
The cost of implementing the amended regulatory framework will be met within existing budget allocations, and the resources used to manage the existing regulatory framework will continue to be used to administer the amended framework.
Some local governments have begun looking at ways they can deliver housing for emergency needs, such as constructing dwellings on local government-owned land. However, as housing
is generally not an anticipated use on the available public land, it would likely be subject to the requirement to obtain development approval that may involve public consultation. This incurs costs and can take considerable time, making it harder for government to provide urgent support in challenging circumstances. The planning framework supports temporary accommodation for people escaping domestic violence and community residences for people who require assistance or support with everyday living by not requiring such developments to obtain a planning approval. The provisions provide for a pathway to make it easier for state or a local government to quickly respond to existing and unexpected housing shortages caused by unforeseen events.
Social and affordable housing
Public housing (delivered by the state) has a special assessment pathway under Schedule 6 of the Planning Regulation 2017 where the chief executive of the housing department considers the development against the local planning scheme and may public undertake consultation. Social and affordable housing provided by community housing providers or by the private sector and funded by the state government does not benefit from this assessment pathway. Instead, as with all private market residential development, it is assessed by the relevant local government against the planning scheme, including whether it needs development approval or not and the criteria that must be met.
This can result in the need to pay development fees and longer delivery timeframes, making it more costly to deliver the same or similar product that is delivered as public housing by the state. The provisions provide an alternative approval pathway for community housing providers that may be quicker and less expensive, particularly in situations where the proposal would be impact assessable under a planning scheme. It also provides certainty as there are no third party appeal rights afforded for submitters in the consultation process. Communities will continue to be afforded the opportunity to have their say, as consultation with key stakeholders, including the relevant local authority and the local community is still required as part of the Ministerial infrastructure designation process. Where an infrastructure designation is undertaken through the local government, consultation must be undertaken in accordance with the consultation strategy endorsed by the local government.