Building and Planning Approvals

What is the Building Approval process?

  • In WA the building approvals process is legislated under the Building Act 2011 which works with other key legislation covering the registration of building service providers and complaint resolution.
  • However, other approvals may be required in order to commence building work such as planning, health and any other approvals required under other written laws.
  • Applications for building, demolition or occupancy permits or for building approval certificates can be submitted in a variety of ways.
  • Under the Building Act, Councils acting as a permit authority have a fixed amount of time in which to either grant or refuse a permit application.
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What can cause delays to my Building Approval application?

  • Most applications are dealt with well within the maximum time of 10 business days for a certified application and 25 days for uncertified applications.
  • Delays can occur when information needed to assess an application is missing.
  • Councils can request missing information and in so doing put the application on hold until that information is received.
  • Once the missing information has been provided by the applicant, the Council has what is left of the 10 or 25 business days to determine the application.
  • For advice on approval requirements for building, please contact your Council or click here to take a look at the Building Commission’s information pack.
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  • What is the Planning Approval process?

  • Planning controls are set by both State and Local Government in order to manage development and ensure that it does not unreasonably cause harm to neighbours or the environment.
  • In considering subdivision and development proposals, Councils will assess applications against the priorities and intentions of the State and Local Government Strategic Planning Documents.
  • Requirements for individual planning applications ensure the necessary information is provided to enable Councils to assess the proposal.
  • The planning system allows exemptions to certain forms of development, enabling such development to be undertaken without the need for planning approval.
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  • What can cause delays to my Planning Approval application?

  • The overwhelming majority of planning applications that are determined by Local Government are done so well within the prescribed timeframes of 90 days if advertising is required for a development application, or 60 days if not.
  • Delays are mostly the result of applications being incomplete, incorrect or missing information.
  • Sometimes applications may also need to be referred to a State Government agency for comment, which can also delay the process.
  • To ensure an application is dealt without delay, applicants should check that all the required and relevant information has been provided with an application by checking with the relevant Council early in the process.

Rates

How are my rates calculated?

  • The rates paid on residential property is calculated based on the potential rental value of the premises and the operating requirements of the Council.
  • The rates you pay are a proportionate share of what is needed by the Council to provide local services and facilities.
  • That is, if your home has greater potential rental return than your neighbours, you will pay a higher share of the total rates budgeted by Council.
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What if I disagree with my rates?

  • There are two options to query your rates:
    1. Under the Local Government Act 1995 you have 42 days from the time the rates notice is issued to appeal your rates with the Council's Chief Executive Officer. If you do decide to query your rates you must still pay the full amount while it is being reviewed.
    2. You can also appeal how the rental value of your property was calculated. This is the Gross Rental Value (GRV) determined by the Valuer General and as mentioned previously sets your share of what the Council requires. Your annual GRV - or annual potential rent for the property - is included on the rates notice. If you believe this is too high you can challenge this, for further please click here.  
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What can make my rates go up?

  • Your rates can increase if the Council requires more funds to provide local services and facilities. For example if it builds new facilities or adds services.
  • Rates can also increase if your property increases in potential rental value faster than others in your area. For example if you make improvements to your home that increase its rental value then your share of rates will increase.
  • Councils' budgets and consequently funds required through rates are also affected by changes by other sectors of Government. For example when the State Government increased its charges for power and added $280,000 to the street lighting bill that cost has to be met by Councils.
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What is the Emergency Services Levy?

  • The State Government requires Councils to collect the Emergency Services Levy from ratepayers.
  • The funds raised go to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. The funds do not go to Councils and the rate charged is not set by Councils.
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Do pensioners get a discount on rates?

  • Pensioners with a valid seniors' or concession card are entitled to rates reductions depending on their status on Council rates, water charges and the Emergency Services Levy.
  • However from 1 July 2016, the State Government has capped rebate to pensioners at 50% of their rates up to $750.
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Do I have to pay my rates all at once?

  • Councils understand that sometimes people experience financial hardship which makes it difficult to meet all of their financial commitments when they are due.
  • Please contact a Council Rates Officer to arrange a suitable payment arrangement to settle the rates debt by the end of the financial year.

Roads

What are local roads?

  • Most of the roads in the state are local roads and as such are the responsibility of Local Government.
  • Apart from roads through forests and national parks, local roads make up 88 per cent of all roads in WA.
  • Most roads and streets in your area, apart from the major arterial roads are local roads and are the responsibility of your Council.
  • It is estimated that it would cost $24 billion to replace all local roads in WA.
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So do Councils pay to fix most of the roads?

  • A significant part of all Council budgets is road maintenance but Councils simply can’t meet the entire expense from their funds.
  • For example the total expenditure on roads last year was $753.4 million and 43 per cent was funded by State and Federal government programs.
  • The State Government funding for roads is set as a 21 per cent share of revenue collected from vehicle licence fees.
  • Councils regularly question how the sector can be responsible for 88 per cent of all roads but receive only 21 per cent of the money raised from licences.
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What if there are problems with roads in my area?

  • Much of the local road network is now approaching the end of its design life and an increasing portion of funding is being spent on maintenance and renewal.
  • For example last year maintenance and renewal made up almost 75 per cent of total expenditure and it was estimated that there was a shortfall of $116 million to maintain the network in its current condition.
  • Securing funding to ensure local roads are well maintained and safe is one of the most important challenges for Local Government.
  • If you spot local roads that may need maintenance let the relevant Council know by using localeye, a free mobile app from the App Store for iOS devices, or Google Play store for Android devices.

Local Laws

What is a local law?

  • Local laws are enforceable in a Council area in response to the requirements and preferences of that Council and its community.
  • Written in plain English, they should be easy to understand and clearly set out rights and responsibilities as well as things that are not permitted to be done in a specific Council area.
  • In your community, Local Laws are normally managed by the Local Government Ranger Service.
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Why do local laws differ from place to place?

  • Local laws reflect the way a local community wants to function. That’s is your local laws should reflect what your community prefers. For example you may have a local law on alfresco dining or perhaps for dog parks while other communities may take a different approach.
  • Critics of the variation in local laws are often those from outside the community that want to make changes or do business in the area and believe they are inconvenienced by having to “fit in” with what the locals want.
  • Claiming that all Councils should have standardise local laws is the same as saying all States should have the same laws. Our State Government has different rules to other states on things such as daylight saving time, retail trading hours and liquor licencing because that is what the people prefer. Why should where you live not have the same choice?
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Are local laws absolutely necessary?

  • Local laws provide specific communities with a say on how their local area will work on issues that are either not covered or not deemed significant enough for State legislation.
  • Often they are often developed to protect critical aspects of the community’s way of life when an area develops so locals don’t lose what make the place their home.
  • As with any legislation, local laws can get out of date or no longer be the community preference and they can consequently be removed or changed.
  • Local laws are what helps make your community special and relevant to you.

Waste Services

I use my bins for waste and recycling but what else do Councils provide?

  • Local Governments provide a wide range of waste management services to suit their local community in addition to general and recycling bin service.
  • Depending on your location, these services can include additional green waste bins; periodic verge collections for larger items and green waste; and town based transfer stations for waste.
  • To take best advantage of additional waste services you are entitled to access as a ratepayer please contact your Council.
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I like to recycle but can I do more?

  • Unfortunately many people who use their recycling bins make simple mistakes that result in their waste not being recycle but going to landfill.
  • Common mistakes include: leaving lids on plastic bottles; placing recycling in plastic bags; leaving food scraps or traces of food in recyclable containers.
  • It may seem Councils are being fussy on recycling but the sorting plants have to process waste efficiently as shown here.
  • And please don’t place clothing, books or homewares in your recycling bin but rather click here to find your nearest location to give these items another life.
  • For more information on how to make the most of your recycling please contact your Council or visit www.recycleright.wa.gov.au.
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I pay my rates and rubbish charges but what is the Waste Levy?

  • The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Levy is charged on every tonne or waste that is generated or landfilled in the metropolitan area.
  • The Levy is collected by the Local Governments or company that runs the landfill and paid to the State Government.
  • Of the Levy collected, 25 per cent goes to fund waste management related activities, as directed by the Waste Authority.
  • When the Waste Levy was first established all payments were to go to these activities but the State Government changed that in 2011.
  • For more information about the Waste Authority visit www.wasteauthority.wa.gov.au.