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What is a Local Planning Strategy?

A Local Planning Strategy is a high level and strategic document that sets out the framework for local planning and development over the next 10 to 15 years. The recommendations of the Local Planning Strategy will provide the basis for any changes to zoning and development standards set out in the Shire’s Local Planning Scheme.

All local governments in Western Australia are required to prepare a local planning strategy under State legislation.

What is a Local Planning Scheme?

A Local Planning Scheme facilitates the implementation of the Local Planning Strategy and is a shorter-term plan aimed at the next 5 years. It provides guidance through rules and more detailed definitions to interpret the strategy at a local level.

A local planning scheme is used daily by Local Government staff and Councillors to help make decisions on all types of planning matters such as new hotels, restaurants, industrial sheds and houses.

The Local Planning Scheme is numbered to make it easier to identify the latest scheme. The current Scheme is Local Planning Scheme No. 6 and it is proposed to amend the current Scheme following the conclusion of this process.

What is the difference between a Local Planning Strategy and Local Planning Scheme?

The Local Planning Strategy (LPS) does not specify changes to individual properties but rather serves as a strategic policy document focusing on big picture land use topics and spatial matters.

A Local Planning Scheme (previously called a Town Planning Scheme) on the other hand, is a statutory document that sets out the way land is to be used and developed on a more individual property scale and provides the framework for Shire day to day decision making. The Local Planning Scheme is essentially the ʻrulebookʼ in which to provide development control provisions to implement the intentions of an LPS.

While the LPS review is being progressed, the Shire will commence the review of the current Northam Local Planning Scheme No. 6 with the intention of implementing the actions of the LPS through a series of omnibus amendments.

What is the difference between a Local Planning Strategy and the Strategic Community Plan?

A Strategic Community Plan (or Council Plan) establishes the community's long term (10+ years) vision, values, aspirations and priorities for the local government's future, including service expectations, assets, and financial plans. It drives the development of other local government plans, resourcing and informing strategies which includes the Local Planning Strategy (LPS). The LPS therefore is a key document that assists in implementing the community vision in relation to land use planning and development as identified in the Council Plan (2022-2032). A copy of the Plan is available at

The vision established by the community in the Council Plan has been adopted in the draft LPS to guide the review to articulate the collective ambition for our community.

The LPS consultation will build on the community input from the recent review of the Council Plan to create a more in depth understanding of the community’s needs and aspirations relating to land use planning.

Why is the Shire reviewing its Local Planning Strategy?

Under State legislation, all local governments are required to review their local planning strategy and scheme periodically to ensure they consider contemporary planning, environmental, economic and social issues.

The Shire completed a review in 2020 and concluded that whilst both documents operate effectively they require updating to ensure that they reflect the current state of the Shire and community needs.

The first step in the review of the planning framework is updating the Local Planning Strategy, which will then enable the local planning scheme to be updated through a series of minor omnibus amendments.

What can a Local Planning Strategy influence and what is beyond its scope?

The Local Planning Strategy (LPS) influences and addresses land use (spatial) matters including:

  • Responding to the changing residential and lifestyle needs of the community and population growth by addressing housing issues such as density, diversity, affordability, availability, built form, and residential character;
  • Supporting local employment and the economy and considering the land use requirements associated with opportunities for economic growth and additional employment; and
  • The protection of the districtʼs environment including biodiversity, landscape, responding to climate change and heritage.

The LPS focusses on ʻhigher orderʼ planning matters, rather than getting into matters better addressed through other planning tools. Given the LPS is a strategic land use document, further details on planning requirements are set out in other planning tools. This includes the Local Planning Scheme, local planning policies, structure plans, local development plans and design guidelines.

There are several matters that are beyond the scope of the LPS and land use planning. Some of these include:

  • Matters already addressed and controlled by State Government agencies, service providers or other stakeholders;
  • Strategic non-land use planning matters addressed by different sections of the Shire;
  • Decisions relating to the funding of community infrastructure and levels of service; and
  • Land management.

Given the State and regional planning legislation, policies and guidelines, there are implications for what can and cannot occur at a local level for some matters. Some of these key implications include:

  • Planning in bushfire prone areas;
  • Rural subdivision;
  • Supply of residential and rural living (rural residential and rural smallholding land); and
  • Where connection to reticulated sewerage, underground power and scheme water is required.

What are the key opportunities of the draft Local Planning Strategy?

  • To identify areas where growth will be targeted. This will ensure housing, employment and new infrastructure is well positioned to meet the needs of our expanding population. It also meets State Government requirements that encourage density around train stations.
  • To guide the delivery of well planned, diverse and walkable neighbourhoods that consider the natural environment.
  • To encourage a range of housing options from houses, to town house and apartments and provide opportunities for employment closer to home. It will also support the creation of vibrant town centres.

With growth and development continuing to occur in the Shire of Northam, the Local Planning Strategy will help guide the Shire in creating a connected and thriving community.

What are the key changes proposed?

Key changes in the draft revised Local Planning Strategy generally include:

  • Alignment with State Government Planning Reform initiatives;
  • Alignment with new State Planning Policies; and
  • Changes in strategic direction (informed by Council Plan and the Wheatbelt Regional Planning & Infrastructure Framework); and
  • Response to local issues (informed by the community and stakeholder engagement process).


Why do we need more flexibility in our town centres?

Northam’s population is growing and to continue to grow we need to diversify our economic base by encouraging existing businesses to grow and attracting new businesses.

Flexibility in the permissibility of land uses in our town centres will provide the basis to consider appropriate and beneficial land uses.

The final permissible land uses will be determined as part of the review of the local planning scheme.

Why do we need more housing in our townsites?

Northam’s population is growing and to ensure growth is sustainable, infill in our townsites is an opportunity to optimise existing infrastructure and provides development opportunities for landowners.  

It is important to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of diverse, affordable quality accommodation available to meet the growing housing needs of workers and their families to achieve the Shire’s aspirational growth targets.

How will the Local Planning Strategy affect my property?

The Local Planning Strategy is a high level document that will identify broad strategies and key actions to be implemented at a Shire wide and neighbourhood level.  The Local Planning Strategy will not specify changes to individual property zoning.

However, the recommendations of the Strategy will inform the review of the Local Planning Scheme, which will consider changes to individual property zoning. Any changes to individual property zoning will be subject to separate landowner consultation at the time of the Scheme review.


Does this mean my property will be rezoned?

No. The Local Planning Strategy sets out the Shire’s intentions for planning and development over the next 10 or more years. Once adopted, it will serve as a reference point for the review of the local planning scheme. This is a separate process following the local planning strategy and will be the subject of further consultation with affected landowners.

Can I subdivide my property based on the Local Planning Strategy Map?

No. The Local Planning Strategy is a high-level document that will not result in any immediate statutory changes. However, future statutory changes will be informed by the Local Planning Strategy. Future subdivision potential may arise as a result of amendments to the local planning scheme text and/or maps, or the preparation of a structure/ precinct plan. 

Why is the Eastlink route identified on the Strategy maps?

It is important to identify matters that could affect the current or future use or enjoyment of a property to ensure that potential impacts are considered, particularly in the context of a local planning strategy that sets out the long-term planning directions for the Shire.

Will the Eastlink affect my property?

Main Roads WA are conducting separate consultation with directly affected landowners, which is a different process to the Shire’s local planning strategy review. If you have concerns about the impacts of the Eastlink project, please contact Main Roads.


How can I get involved and provide feedback?

    Complete an online survey

    An online survey has been developed to gauge the community’s feedback on key targeted questions to ensure we’re on the right track

    Complete an online submission form

    An online submission form has been developed to facilitate community feedback. However, you can also print the form and complete it or write your own submission, which needs to be received by Friday 24th November either by email, in person or by post.

    All responses received within the submission period will be considered and will inform the finalisation of the draft amendments to the Strategy.

    Postal Address PO Box 613, Northam WA 6401

    Administration Centre 395 Fitzgerald Street, Northam

    Call (08) 9622 6100

    email [email protected]



    Who do I speak to about the changes or about how to prepare a submission?

    Contact the Shire’s Planning Team in person, by email to discuss the review and about the changes or about how to prepare a submission.


    Will late submissions be considered?

    Generally, no late submissions are not considered. However if you need an extension of time to complete your submission, please contact us.


    What’s next?

    Shire Officers will analyse all submissions and may propose modifications to the Local Planning Strategy.  A schedule of submissions (de-identified) and recommended changes will be presented to a Council meeting for consideration, along with a resolution to forward the adopted change to the WA Planning Commission for final approval.  The WA Planning Commission will consider the Council’s recommended changes and may either approve the changes, require further changes, or may refuse to approve the Strategy.  The WA Planning Commission may take several months to consider the final Strategy.