Development Applications

Whether you are looking to build a new establishment for your business, or an extension to your home for the newest member of the family, development approvals are an essential component to realising your vision. However, the path to obtaining development approval can often be frought with unexpectied issues despite the best intentions.

At FORMSCAPE, you can be aided by seasoned professionals who can help guide you through the often complex legalities and policies, and liaise with the Local Government on your behalf to provide you with peace of mind and enable you to focus on more important matters.

Development approvals can be required for a variety of different types of developments. Common types of developments and development application are outlined below.


Single Dwellings

Although the most common type of residential development within Western Australia, single dwellings can take on different forms and typologies depending on where they are located, the size and shape of the block, and the applicable residential density coding. While most single dwellings feature only one or two storeys, some dwellings can feature additional floor levels depending on the nature of the site, design, and relevant planning framework.

According to the R-Codes, Single Dwellings are dwellings featured wholly within their own green title or a survey strata titled lot, but excluding titles which have areas held in common property.

The R-Codes do not require development approval for single dwellings where the proposal complies with all relevent with the 'Deemed-to-Comply' and is in a lot greater than 260sqm. However, development approval may be required as a result of other planning provisions.

Grouped Dwellings

Grouped dwellings are becoming increasingly popular as increasing residential density codings enable more lots to be subdivided. Grouped dwellings can take on multiple forms, ranging from houses which appear as single detached dwellings, to town houses. Common examples of this style of development includes where there are numerous dwellings in a battle-axe configuration which share the same driveway leading to a public street, and where dwellings share communal open spaces (not to be confused with public open spaces).

Grouped dwellings are dwellings within strata lots that share common property with other lots, and are not to be confused with 'Multiple Dwellings'.

Grouped dwellings require planning approval under the R-Codes regardless of whether or not they meet all the 'Deemed-to-Comply' criteria. Moreover, it is common for local authorities to require additional elements in order to issue an approval such as parking and waste management plans.

Multiple Dwellings

The R-Codes definition for Multiple Dwellings is intended to apply to apartment style housing, and can be summarised as dwellings which are either located above or below other dwellings, or dwellings above the ground floor in a mixed use development. With increasing residential densities, demand for housing and proximity to transport and activity centres, and focus on minimising traffic congestion and urban sprawl, multiple dwellings are becoming increasingly popular.

Multiple dwellings require development approval in a similar manner to grouped dwellings, albeit may require even more information to be submitted as such dwellings tend to be associated with larger projects.

Ancillary Dwellings

Commonly referred to as 'Granny Flats', ancillary dwellings are dwellings which can be located within the same lot as a single dwelling, provided that the relevant planning requirements can be addressed.

These dwellings generally share facilities provided by the main dwelling. Although limited in permissible size, anyone can inhabit an ancillary dwelling, provided that the nature of habitation is consistent with the approved land use of the property.

Aged or Dependent Persons’ and Single Bedroom Dwellings

These alternative types of housing may appeal to those wishing to maximise the development potential of their property in lieu of ageing populations, smaller households, and demand for more affordable housing options.

Although the R-Codes provisions relating to Single, Grouped, and Multiple dwellings still apply to Aged or Dependent Persons' and Single Bedroom dwellings depending on the context, these types of dwellings are subject to alternative provisions. Such provisions allow for planning concessions such as reduced site area and outdoor living area requirements, provided that alternative requirements are met.



Change of Use

The need to obtain development approval for a change of land use is common for businesses establishing themselves at new premises, or wishing to expand the range of services they offer. Such approval may be required regardless of whether this involves any physical construction works or not.

This is because non-residential zoned lots can facilitate to a variety of different uses, meaning that the same physical development within a site can impart a wide range of different impacts towards the locality. For instance, a premise such as a warehouse used for storage would behave much more differently in terms of matters such as visitor numbers, traffic, and waste generation, compared to if the same building were converted to a supermarket. For this reason, land use must be considered in respect to the relevant local planning scheme, which outlines the permissibility of uses according to different zones. Land uses also have implications in regards to local planning requirements relating to operational matters such as parking and vehicle access.


Signage is an important aspect to consider for commercial developments, particularly in the case of businesses being established at new premises. Development approval can often be required for new signage being proposed, depending on the nature of the signage and local planning requirements. This even applies in instances where existing signs are 'painted over'.

Extension of Use

Similar to change of use applications, applications for extension of use can be required in instances where a particular development had only been approved for a specified amount of time. For instance, a kiosk being approved to operate at a site for only one year.


Any Type

Alterations and Additions

Development approval is often required for alterations and/or additions to existing development on-site depending on the nature of the proposal and relevant planning framework. Common alterations and/or additions include home renovations, commercial 'fit-outs', new outbuildings, and site works.

Retrospective (for Unapproved Works and Land Uses)

Unapproved works and land uses can occur where one is unaware of planning requirements and the need to obtain development approval for certain developments in certain contexts. While this is particularly common in respect to alterations and additions, unapproved developments can take on a vast range of forms.

Where unapproved works and/or land uses are discovered in relation to any property, it is typical for the local authority to issue an order requiring such works and/or land use to be dismantled and/or cease within a limited period of time, or be subject to penalties. However, the option to apply for retrospective planning approval is often granted so that such works and/or land use can remain. This often requires some form of modification to address current planning and building requirements.

Time Extension

Development approvals typically require the proposed development to be carried out to a certain extent within a specified timeframe of it being issued. If this does not occur, then a new Development approval is required. Where insufficient development has been carried out, there is typically the option to lodge an application for a time extension prior to the deadline. If the time extension request be approved, additional time is granted to carry out the proposed development.


If you are contemplating an endevour which may require development approval, feel free to contact us on 9355 5484.