On 8 April 2020, the Minister for Planning issued a notice for various planning exemptions during a State of Emergency. Under amendments to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015, the Minister for Planning has the authority to temporarily override requirements of town planning schemes and existing conditions of planning approvals. A Notice of Exemption has been issued to provide specific guidance to both proponents and local governments including the City of Rockingham on a range of temporary exemptions for certain approvals and requirements. These exemptions will remain in effect until 90 days after the end of the State of Emergency declared on 16 March 2020.
As advised by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH), the exemptions remove any barriers within the planning system to ensure flexible and speedy responses to a changing crisis environment, support business and guarantee the provision of essential community services. They include:
- medical or health-related facilities required in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- truck and logistic companies needing to deliver goods but currently with restricted loading and unloading times
- businesses seeking to adapt by changing their current approved use
- restaurants and cafes required to sell takeaway in contravention of current planning conditions
- people operating their businesses from residential zones
- parking commercial vehicles on residential properties
- a blanket two-year extension for all current development approvals
- businesses needing to change signs
- temporary workers' accommodation.
Updated Notice of Exemption
The new emergency provisions (clause 78H) of the Deemed Provisions allow the Minister to amend the Notice of Exemption to ensure the exemptions are achieving their intended purpose of facilitating a response to or recovery from a State of Emergency.
Given the continually evolving nature of the current State of Emergency, a review of the practical implementation of the notice has been done and it has subsequently been amended to:
- clarify the intent of conditions relating to exemptions for:
- certain uses and temporary works associated with these uses
- timeframe relating to substantial commencement
- clarify the intent and effect of the interpretation and guidance conditions
- specify who can use each exemption
- clarify requirements for local governments when utilising the exemptions relating to local planning policies
- provide an additional exemption for agricultural workers' accommodation in the shires of Manjimup and Harvey.
The updated Notice of Exemption was signed by the Minister and came into effect on 30 April 2020.
The Notice of Exemption below is self-explanatory but any proponents must write to the City before undertaking any development which may be included in the planning exemption list. We will then confirm in writing if a proposal is compliant with the Minister's Notice of Exemption.
Business owners/operators are encouraged to advise neighbours about any relevant changes to their residence and the intention to operate a business to avoid any misunderstanding or negative response. Draft letters are also available below to assist in communication with the City.
The exemptions provided through the Minister's notice are temporary. The notice cannot provide a permanent exemption from a planning requirement to obtain development approval under the City's Town Planning Scheme No.2. As such, development approval will be required from the City once the exemptions in the Minister's notice expires.
Once an exemption expires, the existing planning framework requirements, including existing conditions of approval, will apply. What happens after the exemptions in the notice expire is explained in further detail on the DPLH website.
For most other developments, development approval is still required pursuant to the City's Town Planning Scheme No.2 and Metropolitan Region Scheme as required. Further exemptions though are explained above for single house additions and two grouped dwellings which automatically do not require development approval.