Minister seeks bylaw reform
Mixed menu: Different councils have different rules for alfresco dining. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

The State Government will tell WA councils to scrap hundreds of inconsistent by-laws governing everything from alfresco dining and pet ownership to planning.

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson will use a speech at tomorrow's WA Local Government Association annual meeting to urge councils to "get your heads together" to adopt the best and simplest bylaws across the board. Top priority is overhauling planning guidelines that vary wildly between councils.

Mr Simpson told The West Australian he wanted councils to work together to make the changes but did not rule out legislative change if they could not.

His message is likely to further strain relations between the Government and councils.

Inconsistencies in planning by-laws have long been a bugbear of the building and planning industry. One often cited example is that WA's 138 councils have more than 100 different regulations governing crossovers - the space between the kerb and property boundary.

Other non-planning examples include the cities of South Perth and Subiaco capping cat ownership at two and three animals respectively, while the City of Bayswater has no limit.

Mr Simpson said he hoped to start with planning and move on to other "low-hanging fruit", such as regulations prohibiting cafes in one local government area from putting tables and chairs on the footpath and allowing it in others.

"We've got to get some uniformity on that (planning) to get the process under way then all the other ones will fall in behind, be it the alfresco (dining), be it the cats and dogs, be it something to do with other types of inconsistencies, we can work through them," he said.

Mr Simpson said he expected "a fair bit of pushback" from councils but the time was right because looming boundary changes would require many to revise bylaws anyway.

"I'm pretty sure the mums and dads will sit back there thinking 'that kind of makes sense actually, why can't we have some uniformity around these local laws? Why is it so hard to get my patio built on my house'," he said.

"Although I don't think the sector's going to be overly happy with it, the reality is we have to do something different."

The West Australian

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