Local Government Land Use Planning - Water Sensitive Urban Design

In recent years the Department for Planning, Lands and Heritage and partnership agencies have been involved in the development of guidance documents related to Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD), such as Better Urban Water Management which is designed to facilitate better management and use of urban water resources.

The Healthy Rivers Local Government Land Use Planning Project - Water Sensitive Urban Design was funded and established by the former  Swan River Trust-now the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions - Healthy Rivers Program and co-ordinated by EMRC, with the assistance of the Department for Planning, Lands and Heritage(DPLH).

The project aimed to engage planning officers at nine local governments in the north-east metropolitan corridor to identify:

  • tools, guides, processes and/or protocols that will aid their implementation of Better Urban Water Management (Western Australian Planning Commission, 2008); and
  • additional support and activities, beyond that provided in existing programs, required to facilitate local government commitment to implementation of WSUD within local planning processes.


  • Five of the nine local governments have a Town Planning Scheme/Local Planning Scheme (TPS/LPS) based upon the WAPC gazetted Model Scheme Text;
  • Four local governments have clauses or schedule information within their TPS/LPS that refer specifically to WSUD;
  • Five local governments have adopted local planning policies that make reference to WSUD and/or its principles;
  • Six local governments refer to WSUD and/or its principles in other planning and/or management tools, such as planning guidelines or management strategies.
  • Issues and barriers
  • Application of WSUD believed to be limited to large-scale, higher R-code developments, and that the type of development therefore affects the ability of planners to react.
  • Clay soils found in subdivision areas are prohibitive to implementation of WSUD principles (compared to Swan Coastal Plain).
  • Lack of resources to assist local government to implement WSUD.
  • The expectations on local government are growing and there is too much to consider.
  • More practical guidance from state government is needed.
  • With changes in departments, and therefore roles and responsibilities, local government is uncertain as to whom to seek assistance from.


  • Incorporate the provisions of the DPLH,WSUD Model Scheme Text into the respective TPS/LPS, upon review.
  • Review current local government planning, management and operational strategies and/or guidelines to incorporate the WSUD design principles and best management practices outlined within the forthcoming Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and Western Australian Planning Commission WSUD implementation guidelines.
  • Training and capacity-building events and/or briefing sessions that address:
    • Where the expertise is and which agencies are responsible;
    • How local government assesses WSUD and what tools are available;
    • How local government achieves WSUD on small lots and on clay soils;
    • How local government achieves WSUD on small-scale, lower R-code developments;
    • What local government should be designing for in development;
    • Approvals required; and
    • Who is responsible - developer or local government - if WSUD fails.