Planning reforms to unlock $360 million

Planning has a direct impact on economic activity and on housing affordability across Australia. On average, more than $100 billion of construction activity (excluding mining) passes through the planning system each year. MacroPlan recently undertook state-by-state research for the Property Council of Australia’s Residential Development Council (RDC) to assess the practice of state agency referrals for development projects.

Our research found that the practice of referring projects to a myriad of state agencies for advice or concurrence requires developers to navigate what can be a complex system of review checkpoints.  Often the rules for these reviews are not clear, nor are they supported by transparent policy.

These systems can add time and costs to new housing.

Across the states and territories, the Queensland system known as SARA (State Assessment and Referral Agency) was identified as the current benchmark.

SARA is:

  • the best example of a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach where state government takes responsibility for coordinating the inputs and outputs for single agencies.
  • entrenched in legislation and in policy documentation, supported by the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAPs).
  • the ‘port of call’ for all lodgement matters and is available to provide pre-lodgement guidance and advice.

SARA also produces annual reports that assess its own performance and identify where ongoing improvement can be made.

Our research considered the potential costs savings that could be generated from the introduction of a SARA-like agency in each state/territory. Our work estimates that such reforms could unlock $360 million in national economic value per annum.

A copy of the report is available at:


If you would like to understand more about MacroPlan’s research capacities and how these may be relevant to specific projects, please get in touch with us today – Amy Williams,