How do I lodge for an Application for Subdivision Approval?

All applications for the subdivision of land are lodged with the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC), as the Commission determines all subdivision applications in WA. Application forms can be downloaded from the WAPC's website (under Applications). The WAPC refers subdivisions applications to the City for comment in-accordance with Section 142 of the Planning and Development Act 2005.

Please see the link below for further information.
WAPC Planning Application Guide

Why is a Planning Application required?

Applications are required so that a Local Government can assess your plans and information, inspect your property and determine whether your proposal is appropriate. The Local Planning Department seeks to ensure that a proposal:
  • Complies with the relevant elements of the Planning Framework, be it the Town Planning Scheme or Local Policies.
  • Is an appropriate use on the property according to its zoning.
  • Has limited visual impact upon a locality.
  • Has limited adverse impact upon occupants of adjacent properties in the locality.

What documents are required by Council to assess an Application for Planning Approval?

When applying for Planning Approval, the following documents need to be submitted:
  • MRS Form 1 of Application for Planning Approval signed by the current owners of the land.
  • Three sets of drawings including an accurate site plan, floor plan and elevations.
  • A report to justify any requested variations from normal requirements as provided by the relevant Planning Framework.
  • Fee payment as listed in the Local Government's 'Schedule of Fees.'

In addition, each Local Government has detailed checklists available for some of the common types of applications. Please note that additional information may be requested by the assigned Planning Officer during assessment of an application.

What is the current turnaround time for Planning Approvals?

Planning Applications which are not required to be referred to a Council meeting for determination are generally approved within 6-8 working weeks. The Planning and Development Act 2005 requires that a Council must determine an application within 60 days otherwise it is deemed refused.

What is the difference between Town Planning Approval and a Building Permit?

The Building Permit process regulates the construction and alteration of buildings by assessing proposed buildings and structures and alteration work against the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). A building permit is required before any building work can be carried out. A registered Building Surveyor is engaged by the applicant to certify compliance with the Building Standards through issuing a Certificate of Design Compliance (CDC).
The Planning Approval (also referred to as Development Approval/DA) process regulates the use and development of land by assessing proposals against Council's planning schemes and the State's planning legislation. The planning approval process focuses particularly on the impact of a proposal on the site and neighbouring land.

It addresses the following sorts of issues:
  • Does it comply with planning scheme requirements?
  • Will it cause overshadowing or loss of privacy to neighbours?
  • Is it located an appropriate distance from boundaries?
  • Is the scale and size appropriate for the area?
  • Is there adequate car parking?
  • Does it create any access or traffic safety issues?
  • Are the hours of operation appropriate for the area?
  • Are there any environmental constraints that need to be considered?
Many Perth Councils are able to grant Planning Approval as part of issuing a Building Permit, however you should always check with your Local Council before preparing working drawings as this is generally only for proposals that are fully compliant with planning requirements. If you are unsure or not confident your application complies with planning requirements, seek professional advice prior to submitting for approval.

What is Residential Density or an R-Code?

Residential density is identified by a series of numbers within the Residential zone on a Council's Town Planning Scheme map. These numbers are derived from a State Government document called the "Residential Design Codes of Western Australia", or the R-Codes for short. Please find the link to the document below which explains in general terms what can be done on each zoning.

Residential Design Codes 2018.pdf

Note: Individual Councils are able to alter many aspects of the R-Codes in Local Planning Policies with the exception of those relating to minimum and average lot sizes for subdivision purposes.

What are the R-Codes or Residential Design Codes of Western Australia?

The Residential Design Codes of Western Australia (commonly referred to as the R-Codes) is a State Government Policy (SPP3.1) which is inferred power directly through the State Planning and Development Act 2005.

The purpose of the R-Codes is to provide a consistent and comprehensive basis for the control of residential development through all Local Governments. They are intended to cover all requirements for planning control purposes and to minimise the need for Local Authorities to introduce separate planning policies or variations to these matters.

The R-Codes do not address the physical construction requirements or the specific internal design of buildings - these are matters controlled by the National Construction Code Series and outlined within the Building Code of Australia.

How can I found out the R-Code of a property?

To find out the R-Code of a property you must search the property on a Town Planning Scheme map and refer to the information provided. You can search for your property on a scheme map using either an online Intramap on the Local Governent website corresponding to the property location, or through a printable pdf scheme map, which can be found using the Department of Planning Local Planning Schemes search tool. For your convenience, we have also provided links to many Local Government Scheme Maps on our Resources page, in addition to providing the following instructions.

Intramap Instructions
To find your property in Intramaps, enter the address in the fields below (Street name and number is sufficient). Once your property is selected, please note the area of the lot annotated either on the map or listed on the side bar. After taking note of this, if the property zoning and density coding is not also listed, change the map layer to the town planning related layer (sometimes titled in relation to a Scheme) by clicking on the layer heading as listed towards the top left of your screen. After changing to this layer, the information displayed on the right hand side column should change and provide different information about your property. As it is a town planning related layer, it is most likely that the zoning and density coding is listed.
PDF Map instructions
Upon opening your map you will notice a legend which denotes the colour coding and/or hatching of the lots featured. Please take notice of this when searching for your property in order to find out its zoning and density coding. Fortunately, these maps are typically of high resolution, meaning you can zoom in considerably to discover your property and read text freely.

*Please note that while the density code is commonly expressed as RXX (eg. R20), it may sometimes be used in conjunction with its zoning (eg. Residential R30).

What is a Town Planning Scheme?

The Planning and Development Act 2005 (WA) requires that all Local Governments maintain a Town Planning Scheme. This is a legal document that regulates how land is used. Specifically, it stipulates how land is zoned i.e. commercial or residential, and contains other important information relating to development standards across the City.

If a provision in a Town Planning Scheme contradicts that of the R-Codes, the Town Planning Scheme shall prevail. Schemes are supposed to be updated every 5 years, however this rarely occurs. Some of Perth's Local Governments such as Nedlands have Schemes from as early as 1985.

What is a Local Planning Strategy?

A Local Planning Strategy is a comprehensive planning document which guides the drafting of a new Town Planning Scheme. It is prepared based on the thorough research of the precinct. A good strategy identifies all of the key planning issues within the City and projects the needs of the Local Government Area approximately 20 years into the future. The purpose of a Strategy is to recommend what course of action should be taken in the short term through the planning framework to achieve set objectives. It covers topics such as population growth and housing, to transport and infrastructure. A new Town Planning Scheme should be read in conjunction with the Local Planning Strategy.

Does the Minister for Planning have to approve the new Town Planning Scheme?

Yes. Once a Council has considered the submissions received from the public and other stakeholders and voted to adopt a new Town Planning Scheme, the Council must then forward a copy to the Western Australian Planning Commission who make a recommendation to the Minister for Planning for final approval.

How are the R-Codes given effect?

The R-Codes are a State Planning Policy (SPP) prepared by the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) in Part 3 of the Planning and Development Act 2005. Revision to the R-Codes occur every several years or as required and are automatically introduced into local Town Planning Schemes, which refer to the R-Codes.

What is the Multi Unit Housing Code and what is a Multi Unit Dwelling?

A dwelling is considered a Multi-Unit Housing or a Multiple Dwelling when a part or all of a dwelling is vertically over another dwelling or above the ground floor in a mixed use development (this does not include grouped dwellings).

In 2009 the Residential Design Codes included another part (now part 6) which limits the total plot ratio developable on a site, rather than restrict the number dwellings. Overnight blocks zoned R30+ were ripe for building two/three-story “walk-up” homes with a 300% increase in dwellings being able to be built and began being bought up by investors keen to create higher density developments and capitalise on Perth’s housing affordability crisis.

Up until now, activity surrounding this type of development has been limited, however changing expectations and priorities from home buyers has seen a 77% increase in Multi-Units being created in 2012-2013 FY as well as many new players new to this housing product trying their hand at this type of development.

The gross total area of all floors of buildings on a development site, including the area of any internal and external walls but not including the areas of any lift shafts, stairs or stair landings common to two or more dwellings, machinery, air conditioning and equipment rooms, space that is wholly below natural ground level, areas used exclusively for the parking of wheeled vehicles at or below natural ground level, storerooms, lobbies, bin storage areas and passageways to bin storage areas or amenities areas common to more than one dwelling, or balconies, eaves, veranda’s, courtyards and roof terraces.

What is a Planning Application?

A Planning Application is separate to a Building Application and is required for any type of development that is not permitted outright by the Town Planning Scheme. The Town Planning Scheme is a document that guides the way a Local Authority grows and changes and it assists a Local Government in day to day decisions about applications.

What is a Retrospective Planning Application?

A development which has not obtained Development/Planning Approval prior to being substantially commenced and yet would otherwise comply with the relevant Town Planning Scheme. The fee payable to Council for a retrospective planning application is 3 x the usual fee applicable.