Your Business, Your Tenancy, and How You Use Your Property – What You Need to Know About the Legal Change of Land Use in Western Australia in respect to Planning FrameworkWritten by David D'Orazio
Whether we are looking at establishing a new business, expanding an existing business into new locations, or own a property and wish to accommodate a new tenant, we must be aware that this may warrant the need to obtain planning approval in order to mandate the nature of proposed activities on-site.
Often when we think of urban and regional planning, the physical construction and alteration of buildings and land comes to mind. However, the nature of the use of a particular parcel of land is just as relevant. This is because many land uses can conflict and compete with other land uses. Examples of this include industrial manufacturing operations within residential areas, large offices and retail premises along streets unable to support parking demand and traffic flows, or even night clubs next to aged care centres.
As a result, when it comes to proposing a new land use within a property, the nature of such use must be carefully considered by both planners and applicants. Elements to consider typically include the operation of the business (e.g. opening hours, what the business does, etc.), the number of visitors to the property, and vehicle access and parking on-site. The impacts of the proposed land use/s and that of surrounding tenancies and properties also requires due consideration.
However, given the complexity of the planning system, it is understandable that some tenants become overwhelmed and therefore disengaged. This may result in tenants and landowners not seeking planning approval for a change of use in instances where it is required, likely based on an assumption that the project does not warrant the need for approval since it only involves minimal construction work and merely a change in how the property is used. While this may be a tempting avenue for some, not having the required planning approval for the respective land use puts operations on-site and businesses at risk.
One complaint is all that is required for a Local Authority to investigate the matter more closely, resulting in action being taken against the responsible landowner and tenant/s of the land with unapproved uses being carried out. Landowners and occupants of the lot in question will typically be given an ultimatum to ether cease the unapproved use or lodge a retrospective planning application within 28 days. This results in both disruption and uncertainty given that there is no guarantee that the planning application would be approved without any troublesome conditions, or even approved at all. The above matters are complicated even further given that planning requirements are subject to change over time, meaning that certain elements which could have been more readily approved may no longer be so. For instance, parking requirements within many Local Government areas have increased for particular land uses throughout recent decades in order to manage parking demand.
Ultimately, when considering on conducting new or additional activities within a certain property, it is critical to determine whether or not planning approval is required. With advice and assistance from planning and building professionals, landowners and aspiring tenants can benefit greatly from having the ability to conduct their preferred activities and associated building works in an optimal, secure, and confident manner.
If you would like to have a casual chat with a planner in this regard, or about a specific set of plans or general planning issues, please do not hesitate to contact FORMSCAPE on (08) 9355 5484, or book an appointment today.
Planning Requirements Are More Flexible Than You Think: A Focus on the Residential Design Codes of Western AustraliaWritten by David D'Orazio
Whether you are looking to design a single or grouped residential dwelling, or multiple dwellings in mixed use areas, in Western Australia one must adhere to the provisions of the Residential Design Codes, also known as the ‘R-Codes’. It is typical and prudent for developers to seek to satisfy R-Codes ‘Deemed-to-Comply’ requirements as it increases the likelihood that a proposal will be supported and granted approval. These requirements dictate a variety of planning related building design aspects such as wall setbacks from lot boundaries and the street, wall and roof heights, open space requirements, parking requirements, garage widths, and retaining walls to name a few.
However, while the Deemed-to-Comply requirements are appropriately intended to facilitate ideal design outcomes and the needs for residents and a growing city alike, it can often be difficult and unpractical for developments to adhere to every single requirement. This is where the provisions of the ‘Design Principles’ come in.
Often neglected in favor of Deemed-to-Comply requirements, the Design Principles provide room for discretion and scope for a greater amount of design options in order to achieve better outcomes and make the most out of a site. This is particularly ideal in cases where it is unfeasible or undesirable to adhere strictly to specific requirements. As a result, whether it relates to facilitating an attractive and functional building design on an oddly shaped lot, a creative roof design, or squeezing a house into a narrow lot to allow for a backyard, one is readily able to lodge a development application and apply for a variation.
Many Local Governments in fact provide scope for variations within their local planning policies, often providing alternative provisions to the R-Codes. While such provisions can vary considerably depending on the locality, or even be more restrictive compared to R-Codes Deemed-to-Comply requirements, a skilled planner can help navigate such statutory complexities and negotiate with planners of local authorities in favor of supporting more desirable development outcomes.
Ultimately, developments will determine the quality of amenity provided to occupants and the locality for an extensive period of time measured in decades. For this reason, it is prudent to consider variations to R-Codes Deemed-to-Comply provisions in order to achieve the most optimal design outcome for any particular site. With advice and assistance from planners, building designers and aspiring developers can benefit from a greater ability to pursue and achieve more bespoke design options and solutions.
If you would like to have a casual chat with a planner in this regard, or about a specific set of plans or general planning issues, please do not hesitate to contact FORMSCAPE on (08) 9355 5484, or book an appointment today.
Future of Residential Subdivision in Western Australia: How Draft Development Control Policy 2.2 Will Affect YouWritten by David D'Orazio
Regardless of whether you are interested in subdivision or not, if you own or are interested in residential property in Western Australia, Development Control (DC) Policy 2.2 - Residential Subdivision will affect you. DC Policy 2.2 defines what you can and cannot do with your residential property, and how you may be able to maximize its value. DC Policy 2.2 is an influential policy given Western Australia’s push for increased urban infill development in order address housing demand, provide more affordable lots, and limit urban sprawl. It is no surprise then, that the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) has recently announced proposed changes to DC Policy 2.2.
Compared to the existing 2013 incarnation, the 2017 Draft DC Policy 2.2 introduces new criteria for proposed lots featuring average lot size variations greater than 5%. What this means is that if the draft policy were to be adopted as proposed, there would be greater potential for a larger range of lots to be subdivided. Many lots previously ineligible for subdivision or considerably restricted in options due to their insufficient size, may now offer greater potential for development.
However, this must not be interpreted as a wholesale loosening of residential subdivision requirements. Clause 4.2.2 of Draft DC Policy 2.2 policy states the following in regards to average lot size variations greater than 5%:
Any average lot size variation greater than five per cent meets the following criteria:
- a residential coding of R10 to R30 applies to the land
- the site is a corner lot with frontage to more than one road (excluding a regional road) or has dedicated road access or right-of-way access to both front and rear boundaries
- the proposed lots comply with the minimum frontage requirements specified in Table 1 of the R-Codes and are regular in shape
- crossovers and driveways to the proposed lots are provided in accordance with Australian Standard (AS) 2890 and the R-Codes
- any corner truncation is excluded from the calculation of the average lot size.
Whether or not your property meets these criteria, it is important to be familiar with these potential changes upon considering residential property in Western Australia. What do you think of the Draft DC Policy 2.2? Are these proposed changes reasonable? Do they go too far, or not far enough? Please comment below and share us your thoughts.
Further to the above, it may also interest you to know that the WAPC (Western Australian Planning Commission) is currently seeking feedback in relation to the proposed changes until 5pm 10th of July 2017. Please click on this link if you would like to provide feedback and make a submission online.
Alternatively, you are welcome to have a casual chat about the Draft DC Policy 2.2 or general planning matters with a Planning Consultant at FORMSCAPE on (08) 9355 5484.
*If the matters discussed in this article are of interest to you, you may also like to learn about the 2016 proposed amendments to the Residential Design Codes, or these great tips on residential subdivision.
Ultimately whether or not you can subdivide your property in Western Australia will be dependent on predetermined factors out of your control. To get a better understanding of the subdivision process and your potential lot yield, we recommend undertaking the following steps:
- Learn the strengths and limitations of your property;
- Consult with the R-Codes; and
- Consider your potential options.
1. Learn the strengths and limitations of your property
The size or area of your land, its zoning and its density code (commonly referred to as its ‘R-Code’ in Western Australia) are typically the three most important factors which will control whether your site can be subdivided and how many lots it can yield. The easiest and quickest way to check these things is to contact your Local Government directly. Alternatively you may be able to search for this information on your Local Government's Online Mapping system (Intramaps), which can be found here on our Resources page.
*If you are unfamiliar with using Intramaps or reading Scheme Maps, please refer to our FAQs page for instructions.
Lot Not Zoned 'Residential'
Typically, established suburbs will be zoned 'Residential' and will have a density coding assigned (eg. R20). But what about in new or developing areas where this isn’t the case? It may be that your site is located within a Local Structure Plan (LSP) area which will typically identify your site as being within ‘Urban Development’ zone. These newer areas may also be guided by a 'Local Development Plan' (previously referred to as a 'Detailed Area Plan'), which include a number of development requirements specific to that area. In these instances, you will need to refer to the appropriate map/plan to find out its density coding and any other development provisions which may limit subdivision of your site. These maps are commonly found through Intramaps (please refer to our FAQs page for use instructions) or are featured on your Local Governments website. If that fails, it may be best to contact your Local Government to make an inquiry in this regard.
Other matters for consideration:
- Does the site have access to a right-of-way (laneway)?
- Do you have a corner site (i.e. road frontage to two or more streets)?
- Are there any easements, caveats or restrictive covenants registered on the Title.
- Provision of services and infrastructure - water, sewer, power etc.
- Do you wish to retain an existing dwelling, an ancillary dwelling (granny flat), outbuilding (shed) or swimming pool?
- Topography – do you have a site with a heavy slope?
- Is the site affected by natural/physical features such a watercourse, wetland, significant vegetation, flood plain and dams, acid sulphate soils or is the site potentially contaminated?
2. Consult the R-Codes
Once you have found out the zoning, density coding and you know how much area your lot has, you will be able to work out the respective lot yield by referring to Table 1 of the Residential Design Codes (R-Codes). The following R-Codes Table 1 extract is provided for your convenience.
Columns 3 and 4 of Table 1 of the R-Codes specify the minimum and average permitted lot sizes (in m²) in relation to its density coding. This will give you a very good idea of how many lots you can divide your property into.
However, by now you may have noticed that there are several different sizes listed for your density coding (if your density code is R10 or higher), including:
- Single or Grouped Dwelling minimum (min) areas per dwelling
- Single or Grouped Dwelling average (av) areas per dwelling
- Minimum site area per dwelling for multiple dwellings (typically apartments)
- Column 4 lists the minimum area required for a rear battle-axe site.
Accordingly, it is important to have an understanding of the type of subdivision and/or development you ultimately want to produce.
For example, if you have a 1,000m² site in an R20 area, you would be able to subdivide the lot into two lots, with one having an area of 350m² and the other being 650m². The first lot is smaller than the mandated minimum average lot size of 450m², but achieves the minimum required size of 350m². The second lot is far greater in size and ensures that the average lot size within the subdivision is greater than 450m². In this case, an average lot size of 500m² is achieved and considered acceptable.
In contrast, you would not be able to subdivide the above lot into three lots under normal circumstances, as the 1000m² parent lot divided into three results in an average lot size of 333.3m², which is below the average lot size of 450m².
For grouped dwellings applications a portion of common property (such as a shared driveway) may also be factored into your subdivision areas. Nevertheless, should the latter example resemble your situation, do not lose hope, as you may have options available!
3. Consider your potential options
Typically, most people will seek to create green title (or Freehold) lots. However survey-strata lots are becoming an increasingly popular alternative, particularly where there is a need to create common property and/or retain an existing dwelling.
Another matter to consider is whether you want to produce a battle-axe lot or narrow side by side lot configuration. Keep in mind there is typically a minimum frontage requirement for sites which are coded up to R25.
Should the parent lot (original lot before subdivision) area be an issue, you may want to consider Clause 5.1.1 of the R-Codes, which includes the following deemed-to-comply provisions in relation to aged or dependant persons or single bedroom dwellings proposals:
Although Clause 5.5.3 currently specifies that, should you choose to include aged or dependant persons dwellings, you must have a minimum number of five dwellings within any single development, the R-Codes Proposed Amendments 2016 features a reduced requirement of just two of these types of dwellings. Thus it may become a feasible option for a wide range of lots.
Should you desire smaller lot sizes without proposing aged or dependant persons or single bedroom dwellings, the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) may allow for a 5% variation/reduction to the average lot size in some cases.
Ultimately there are may be many options available to you to successfully obtain a subdivision approval for your property. Should you desire professional advice or wish to discuss the subdivision potential of your site we are happy to assist. Please do not hesitate to contact one of our consultants at FORMSCAPE on (08) 9355 5484, or book an appointment today.
Future of Residential Development in Western Australia - The R-Codes Proposed Amendments 2016 & What They MeanWritten by David D'Orazio
Although the majority of the 2016 proposed amendments to the R-Codes involve administrative changes, alignment with LPS regulations, improved clarity, or correction of anomalies, there are certain amendments which are worth taking note of. These changes will have a notable influence on future development following the anticipated adoption of the amendments sometime during mid-2017. Below is a summary of the 10 most influential proposed amendments to watch out for, and what they mean for resdiential development in Western Australia.
Proposed Amendment 10. – Clause 5.1.1 – Site Area
Modify clause 5.1.1 as follows:
- Delete P1.1, P1.2 and P1.3 under the design principles column and replace with:
Note: Site area unable to be varied under design principles via the development application process. WAPC is able to vary through subdivision policy and application process (refer C1.4ii)
What this means -
This amendment is intended to reinforce the authority of the WAPC in that it has sole power to vary the site/lot area in regards to subdivision.
Proposed Amendment 11. – Clause 5.1.2 – Street setback
Modify clause 5.1.1 as follows:
- Amend last dot point under P2.2 to:
Positively contributes to the prevailing or future development context and streetscape as outlined in the local planning framework....
What this means -
A development proposal is likely to be assessed more strongly in relation to the desired future development context. This reflects on a focus by many local governments on managing urban infill and facilitating activity centre development.
Proposed Amendment 12. – Clause 5.1.3 – Lot boundary setback
Modify clause 5.1.3 as follows:
Amend P3.1 as follows:
- Buildings set back from lot boundaries or adjacent buildings so as to:
Amend final dot point under P3.2 to:
- positively contributes to the prevailing or future development context and streetscape as outlined in the local planning framework…
What this means -
As with proposed amendment 11, this amendment is to also afford more focus on considering the desired future development context upon assessing development proposals. However, the amendment to P3.1 to make mention of ‘adjacent buildings’ reflects on the need to manage the trend of urban infill development which maximizes the use of increasingly smaller lot sizes, and coincides with the increase in grouped and multiple dwelling developments. The amendment means that one must consider the location of their proposed development according to the location of nearby buildings, and not just the lot boundaries.
Proposed Amendment 15. – New Clause - Clause 5.2.7 – Streetscape appearance
Insert the following new clause after clause 5.2.6 as follows:
5.2.7 Streetscape appearance
P7 Building mass and form that:
- satisfies objectives and design principles outlined in a relevant streetscape local planning policy approved by the WAPC;
- uses design features to articulate the building;
- uses appropriate minor projections that do not detract from the character of the streetscape;
- uses major openings to facilitate street surveillance and activation and minimises building façade taken up by garages, blank walls and servicing infrastructure; and
- positively contributes to the prevailing or future development context and streetscape as outlined in the local planning framework.
C7 Buildings comply with the requirements of a relevant streetscape local planning policy approved by the WAPC in accordance with clause 7.3.2 of the R-Codes.
What this means -
This clause is proposed to close a loophole and ensure that Local Planning Policy requirements are considered in tandem with those of the R-Codes. This reinforces the importance of addressing the provisions of Local Planning Policies as well those of the R-Codes in accordance to the locality of the proposed development.
Proposed Amendment 21. – Clause 5.4.2 – Solar access for adjoining sites
Amend clause 5.4.2 C2.1 as follows:
- Insert ‘for walls higher than 3.5m’ following ‘does not exceed the following limits’
What this means -
The adoption of this amendment would ensure the solar access clause would not be activated in regards to proposed walls 3.5m high or less (typically single storey walls). This will help streamline the assessment process of single storey dwellings as they generally do not create overshadowing issues, while ensuring greater focus is placed on more relevant clauses.
Proposed Amendment 22. – Clause 5.4.4 – External fixtures & Clause 5.4.5 – Utilities and facilities
Modify clauses 5.4.4 and 5.4.5 as follows:
- Modify the heading of clause 5.4.4 to ‘External fixtures, utilities and facilities’
- Relocate P5 from clause 5.4.5 to clause 5.4.4 following P4.1 and renumber to P4.2
- Relocate C5.1, C5.2 and C5.3 from clause 5.4.5 to clause 5.4.4 following C4.4 and renumber to C4.5, C4.6 and C4.7 respectively
- Modify renumbered C4.5 as follows:
An enclosed, lockable storage area, constructed in a design and material matching the dwelling where visible from the street, accessible from outside the dwelling, with a minimum dimension of 1.5m when provided external to a garage and 1m when provided within a garage and an internal area of at least 4m2, for each grouped dwelling.
- Delete all references to clause 5.4.5.
What this means -
The merging of these clauses will help to streamline the assessment process as these clauses are similar in nature. More notably however, is the proposed modification to the renumbered C4.5 provision, which would allow for required storage areas to be 1m wide if located within a garage for grouped dwellings. As noted in an administrative comment, this is to reflect the common practice of occupants using a strip of area inside and along the side of a garage for storage purposes. Not only is this proposed amendment logical, it will also make it easier for developers to cater to storage requirements while making the best use of increasingly valuable space.
Proposed Amendment 23. – Clause 5.5.1 – Ancillary dwellings
Modify clause 5.5.1 as follows:
- Insert the following after C1:
Note: Where an ancillary dwelling provides for independent living (such as separate access, laundry and kitchen facilities), the ancillary dwelling may be considered as a separate dwelling for the purposes of the National Construction Code and additional or different construction requirements may apply. This may include an ancillary dwelling located under the same roof as the single house that provides independent living.
What this means -
This note is to encourage more consideration towards ancillary dwelling proposals in regards to the building certification phase following the planning and design phases. It is reflective of the increasing focus towards providing housing diversity, and helps to inspire confidence in their construction and reduce potential complications.
Proposed Amendment 24. – Clause 5.5.2 – Aged or dependent persons’ dwellings
Modify clause 5.5.2 C2.1ii as follows:
- Replace ‘five’ with ‘two’
What this means -
Although this is a simple change, it could potentially be the most influential of all the proposed 2016 amendments as it would make it much easier for developers to provide aged and dependent persons dwellings within developments, and thereby take advantage of the bonus plot ratio granted to them. You would expect to see an increased developer focus on incorporating such accommodation within multiple or grouped dwelling developments, especially given the increasingly aging Western Australian demographic.
Proposed Amendment 30. – Appendix 1 – Definitions
Modify the following definitions:
A dwelling that is one of a group of two or more detached or attached dwellings on the same lot which are not located above or below another dwelling or another type of building other than a garage, and includes a dwelling on a survey strata lot with common property but does not include an ancillary dwelling.
Local planning strategy
A document which supports the preparation and review of a scheme in accordance with Part 3 of the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015.
Local structure plan
A planning document prepared and approved under the provisions of the scheme which provides a framework for the planning and coordination of land use, development and subdivision.
- in a building containing two or more dwellings; or
- in a mixed use development.
but does not include a grouped dwelling.
What this means -
These amendments are largely for the purpose of ensuring that they are align with those featured within the National Construction Code building classifications in the case of dwelling types, or the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 in the case of local planning strategies and structure plans. Although these are primarily intended to provide clarity, they are nonetheless important to take note of as they are crucial in defining the nature of development proposals and their assessment. Through this, they help to inspire increased confidence in developers to pursue these types of developments.
Proposed Amendment 31. – Tables
Modify Table 2b: Boundary setbacks – Walls with major openings as follows:
- Modify boundary setback for wall height of 3.5m or less to 1.2m
What this means -
Similarly to proposed amendment 24, this simple alteration would have extensive implications on residential development throughout the state. While a 300mm difference does not appear to be much of a change in itself, it is especially relevant to maximizing land use efficiently, which is especially important for development on increasingly narrow lots, as well as battleaxe lot arrangements. Counting both side boundaries, the reduced setback requirements can provide an additional 0.6m in width, which is almost two thirds the width to cater to a doorway, and wide enough to cater to a study nook adjacent to an existing interior space.
The change would also allow for more useful open space to be afforded towards the rear of the lot, or wherever the predominant outdoor habitable areas are located. Further to this, the reduced setback requirement would also make it easier for lots to accommodate for grouped dwelling developments, as dwelling could be located slightly more closely to one another. Ultimately, this proposed amendment will be well received by developers and landowners alike, and provide for more efficient dwelling designs for the benefit of occupants.
In summary, while many of the proposed amendments are minor, they culminate in a focus on increased administration and development facilitation efficiency. This is especially in relation to encouraging higher density urban infill residential developments, and greater recognition of and adherence to Local Planning Policy provisions. Most importantly however, the proposed amendments reflect on the aspirations of many Local Governments at this juncture which are embracing the call for urban infill through the development of vibrant activity centres.
The Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 (WA) have taken effect as of the 19 October 2015. The New Regulations form part of WA’s planning reform agenda stage 2 and make changes to local planning schemes and scheme amendment processes.
- Standardised planning framework provisions with respect to the development approval process, local planning policies, local development plans, heritage protection and delegated authority will be introduced across local governments.
- Local governments will be required to include the new Model Scheme Text in all new or updated local planning schemes, to achieve greater consistency in the schemes across WA. Any alteration to the model provisions will require the Minister’s approval. A key aspect of the new Model Scheme Text is the inclusion of consistent reserves and zones and the amendment of the land use definitions.
- The local planning scheme preparation process and requirements will be streamlined to remove some of the existing regulatory burden, including simplifying the advertising and consultation requirements.
For more information and a copy of the regulations, check out the Department of Planning website.
We would like to take this opportunity to clarify some items surrounding the expected timing and implementation of the initiative.
Please be aware that amendments to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations take effect as of 19th of October, 2015. These amendments to the Regulations allow the Building Commission to start preparation work towards Instant Start. The Instant Start proposal has closed it's public consultation as of the 4th of November, 2015. Any feedback/comments received during that consultation period is being analysed and reviewed.
Changes to the R-Codes 2015: Removing the ability for R30 and R35 Sites to be Developed with Multiple DwellingsWritten by Alex Hemsley
The WAPC is introducing changes to the R-Codes, just over two years after the State Planning Policy's most recent facelift. The proposed amendments are making changes to the provisions guiding the design of Multiple Dwellings. Whilst removing all R30-35 zoned lots from using the Multi Unit Housing Code, the amendments also seek to increase parking requirements for each unit by approximately 0.25 bays per unit. Improved and experienced design expertise will be required on multi-unit development sites to ensure parking can fit compliantly on site.
A summary of important changes to the R-Codes are listed below:
- Restrict multiple dwellings (Class 2 apartments) in R30-35 to same provisions which previously applied to R25 sites and below.
- Increase parking bays required for multiple dwellings, 25% more bays for units
- Modify Clause 5.3.5 Vehicular access (Grouped Dwelling Developments only) by inserting new sub clause regarding vehicular access from a communal street. This will be resulting in any proposed development having the potential to be subdivided to create 20 or more green title, strata or survey strata lots, with each of these lots obtaining driveway access from a communal street, a minimum total width of 12 metres is required for the communal street which includes a paved vehicular carriageway with a minimum width of 5.5 metres and a pedestrian path on 1.2m. Staging development by creating separate titled properties prior to submitting development applications could help in improving development yield on these site.
Plot ratio area and type of multiple dwelling
Car parking spaces required
(High frequency transport route proximity)
(Non-High frequency transport route proximity)
Less than 110m2 and/or 1 or 2 bedrooms
110m2 or greater and/or 3 or more bedrooms
Visitors car parking spaces (per dwelling)
Location A = within:
• 800m of a train station on a high frequency rail route, measured in a straight
line from the pedestrian entry to the train station platform to any part of a lot; or
• 250m of a high frequency bus route, measured in a straight line from along any part of the route to any part of a lot. Location B = not within the distances outlined in A above.
These R-Codes Amendments are becoming operational on the 23rd October 2015.
FORMSCAPE is pleased to announce that Sam Jeleric has joined the team. Sam brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. Sam Graduated from Curtin University and has worked in both private planning consulting, (Rowe Group) and as in-house planner for one of Perth's respected two storey residential builders. His addition to the department will strengthen the team further and we are confident his background and work experience will be a big asset to the company.
The Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 (WA) were gazetted on 25 August 2015 and will take effect on 19 October 2015. The New Regulations introduce ‘Deemed Provisions’ which will automatically form part of every local planning scheme in WA, whether or not they are incorporated into the local planning scheme text. To the extent there is any inconsistency between a Deemed Provision and a local planning scheme (LPS), the Deemed Provision prevails.
The Regulations introduce a 'Single House Verification Certificate,' (Form 6) which, if able to be completed as a result of a proposal complying with all local planning framework, will allow an applicant to submit a certified building permit application (with a 10 day turn-around), avoiding the often lengthy 60 to 90 day planning approvals process.
Although the majority of Perth's outer metropolitan areas have already adopted a similar system the following Local Governments will now have to accept verified and compliant applications for a building permit.
- City of Fremantle
- City of Nedlands
- City of Subiaco
- City of Vincent
- Town of Claremont
- Town of Cambridge
- City of Perth
- Town of Victoria Park
- City of South Perth
- Town of Cottesloe
- Town of Mosman Park
- Shire of Peppermint Grove
- Town of Bassendean
- Town of East Fremantle
- City of Melville (only accepted compliant single storey applications)
The reality of the regulation change is a compromise of the true intent of the regulation’s introduction. In a Local Government area such as Nedlands, which does not have 'Aesthetic' planning policies, it will push designers to not use the design principles, potentially 'muting' design creativity, simply to avoid the application fee and scrutiny of an application going through Council. In Victoria Park and Cambridge Shires, the complexity of their local planning policies will mean that being compliant with all planning framework is a rare occurrence. The requirement for planning approval will likely remain unavoidable.
FORMSCAPE has been assisting its clients by providing pre-application checks and advising on how to comply through comprehensive mark-ups of plans, reviewing proposals against all relevant local planning requirements prior to submission, to assist in avoiding planning application fees and save time. The introduction of these reforms will allow FORMSCAPE to expand their effectiveness, by directing clients towards complying with more complex planning provisions and verifying their compliance.
Last friday, the WAPC released a Planning Bulletin announcing Residential Medium Density (RMD) standards which alter the R-Codes provisions for (Clauses 5.1.2, 5.1.3 and 5.2.1), open space (Clause 5.1.4), parking (Clause 5.3.3), visual privacy (Clause 5.4.1) and solar access (Clause 5.4.2). They aim to reduce the reliance upon DAP/LDP and Structure Plans which argument specific R-Code requirements. The RMD codes will eventually be adopted into the R-Codes.
Summarised below are the key items to know for every day users of the R-Codes, extracted from the Planning Bulletin.
Why are the RMD Codes being introduced?
The R-Codes are too restrictive and do not work well with new lots being developed. Houses could not reasonably be designed on many of the innovative lot types being created without the ad-hoc alterations to the provisions of the R-Codes through DAP’s, LDP’s, district structures plans, local structure plans, and local planning policies.
The main reasons cited for the introduction as cited by the WA Planning Commission include:
- Poor streetscape outcomes with garage dominated streets;
- Fewer street trees and limited street parking on narrow lots;
- Predominately single storey dwellings with high site coverage built form;
- Minimal uncovered private open space; and
- Current and future loss of trees in greenfield housing estates.
What areas will the RMD codes affect?
The provisions of the RMD codes, will primarily apply to greenfields (previously undeveloped) developments, as well as large infill projects (brownfields) and effectively differentiates between the design requirements in established suburbs as compared to master planned developments.
When does it come into effect?
This policy is not retrospective and transition arrangements will be put in place with the aim of trying to ensure there is no disadvantage for existing projects. Given the time frame of master planned subdivision applications being 9 months, it is unlikely that you will see RMD codes appearing in sales plans until then. The main reason for the retrospective application is to allow for subdivisions designs to reflect minimum 10.5 m lot width to permit double width garages.
What are the major negative impacts for designers and home builders?
- Dual garages not able to be built on lots less than 10.5m width therefore require tandem garages;
- Lots between 10.5m to 12m wide can have 6 m max. wide boundaries subject to 4 design inclusion to mitigate impact of bulk;
- Rear loaded (ROW) garages setback at 0.5m (prev. 0m);
- OLA’s must be 10% of the lot size or 20m2 whichever is greater RMD 60; and
- Front fences max. 900mm high total, previously 1800mm.
What are the wins?
- Open space requirements removed in lieu of larger contiguous OLA’s RMD 60-40-30-25;
- 1.2m side setbacks for walls less than 3.5m high with major openings RMD 60-40-30-25;
- Reduced parking requirements, lot of people having 2 beds and a study RMD 60 only;
- On boundary wall lengths virtually unrestricted;
- No Max on boundary wall length for RMD 60;
- No overlooking requirements for RMD 60 less view cone distances apply to other codes;
- No overshadowing requirements for RMD 60;
- Overshadowing virtually unrestricted to front half of adjoining lots;
- Eaves of OLA’s don’t count towards covered OLA areas;
- OLA’s can have a 3m min dimension in lieu of 4m RMD 60;
- 2m non-averagable setback in lieu of 4m RMD 40 RMD 30;
- 3m non-averagable setback in lieu of 6m RMD 25;
- 1 parking bay required for dwellings with two bedrooms or less (get ready to see lots of 2 bed +1 large study dwellings) RMD 60; and
- 4m setback to garage if footpath is 4.5m from garage RMD 60.
What do I need to do now?
Start developing new display home products and standardised designs.
If you have any further queries in regards to the new planning controls, don’t hesitate to contact Sam by email (at) formscape.com.au or by phone on (08) 9355 5484.
Thankyou for all who attended the Wesbuilder’s Statutory Planning Approvals Process Presentation hosted and presented by Alex Hemsley, Formscape's Town Planning Manager.
Topics included in Presentation:
- A Step by Step guide to achieving planning approval to speed up the process
- Why do we have statutory planning
- What is the difference between planning & building
- Due diligence & research
- Preliminary design
- Identify variations and assessment
- Negotiating with neighbours
- Preparing planning drawings and lodgement
- Respond to RFI Prepare justification
- How to communicate with planners
- Attending Council Meetings | What to expect
- Amending Planning Approval
1. Avoid East-West Facing Lots
Tip #1: Avoid East-West Facing Lots
A lot that faces east of west is a lot that overshadows. Narrow lots require you to build up to at least two storeys. A narrow lot adjoining yours is very easy to over shadow in excess of the DTC requirements. Council’s generally opt for the option to stunt the growth of your design rather than your neighbour’s petunias caused by non-compliant overshadowing.
2. Do your Research Before you Purchase & Design
Go to the council or see a Planning Consultant before you put an offer in or make your offer subject to some sort of planning due diligence.
Common Perth Traps
i. In the Town of Claremont regardless of the setback of your garage, the Scheme states it cannot be more than 50% of the width of the lot. This is impossible to avoid and results in the requirements to create carports which are open on three sides.
ii. The City of Nedlands Scheme requires all lots regardless of the R-Code to have a 9m setback to the building and any vehicle parking. Only limited circumstances relating to 50% or more dwellings on the street being forward of 9m allow this rigid requirement to be varied. A narrow lot is usually a small lot. A setback such as this can play havoc with your project’s viability.
3. Accept that your Design won't be Deemed-to-Comply
Narrow lot design almost invariably means you must use the often feared left-hand column of the R-Codes to achieve you or your client’s vision. The Design Principles / Performance Criteria were written for difficult blocks and generally one off unique designs. Town Planners and to a lesser degree Architects have a strong understanding of logic behind the R-Codes and are a good judge of where the design principles can be used successfully applied to your design. Whilst reverting to the design principles requires a variation report and a separate planning approval, the rewards are significant especially for high quality design.
4. Make Friends with your Neighbours
You might not be friends at the end of the build, but it only matters when you are trying to push your project through Council for planning approval. An irate neighbour can often spell the end for your roof deck or other unique design solutions. Once a neighbour lodges an objection to a variation and uses objective language to describe the impact on the amenity of your proposal, you may as well put the application on hold and start drawing again. Rather than ‘design advertise defend,’ most clients have success and faster approvals when they talk to the neighbours first over a wine and cheese with hand sketches of the proposal before embarking on full working drawings and choosing paint colours. A supportive neighbour can be a remarkable influence on the assessing officer’s final report to Council and will often remove any nasty surprises.
5. Look for a Lot with Rear Access
Tip #5: For the 'Exhibitionist'
a) Lots without a right of way access down the side or rear are difficult to build on and often result in a design that looks as though it was intended for vehicles, not people.
b)The requirements to ensure garage widths are minimised and setback 4.5m from a primary street can play havoc with creating functional design and achieving natural surveillance.
c) A narrow lot often means your neighbours will build wall-to-wall which means that natural light on the ground level is a premium that is difficult to achieve. An additional permanent setback at the back or side of your lot is a godsend for the designer trying to maximise natural light access to the home.
- Government moves to cut delays for home builders
- Proposed Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2014
- Discussion Paper Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2014
- Consultation draft - Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2014
- Instant start for home builders under WA Government promise to cut construction red tape
Builders will be welcoming the State Government’s latest round of building and planning approval reforms, which the WA housing industry will see as a reduction in red tape and a further step towards the much discussed goal of private town planning certification.
The reforms announced today by the Commerce Minister Michael Mischin include the WA Government’s new ‘Instant Start’ initiative which is said to allow builders to commence work at the point when a privately certified permit application is lodged with the issuing Authority. The reforms announced also propose removing the requirement for homeowners to seek a separate planning approval for R-code compliant renovations and extensions.
Mr Mischin said that the Instant Start initiative would remove delays in starting works which had been verified by competent independent experts to be compliant with planning and building requirements.
Cost savings will be shared amongst both the builder, to schedule subcontractors in the most efficient way and home owners who will save hundreds of dollars in mortgage costs on land and in rental costs.
Instant Start would be available to registered builders as soon as required amendments to building and planning regulations were made, which was expected to take six months whilst the Department of Planning and the Building Commission work towards a system of planning verification over this period.
The announcement coincided with the Planning Minister John Day today proposing reforms for homeowners to no longer require planning approval to construct an R-code compliant patio, carport/garage, pool or granny flat on their properties.
Whilst the reforms are exciting and will be beneficial to all parties involved in the building industry, the reforms will place added responsibility on the builder and their town planning and building surveying consultants to ensure that they are confident that their design are compliant with the specific planning requirements of the area.
WABCA and its internal Town Planning Consultancy FORMSCAPE have been working together for the last 18 months in anticipation of these reforms and are well poised to provide their clients with the peace of mind that they are beginning construction works on a design that meets the relevant deemed to comply criteria for the R-Codes or any other relevant town planning framework.