On the 24th of May 2019, Design WA Stage One will be operational. Part Six of the Residential Design Codes (R-Codes) will be replaced by State Planning Policy 7.3: Residential Design Codes Volume 2 – Apartments, which provides much broader and more in depth framework for apartment design.

Although the remaining Parts of the current R-Codes you know and love will merely be re-branded at this stage (State Planning Policy 7.3 Residential Design Codes Volume 1), work on Design WA Stage Two has already commenced. We will see changes to medium density development requirements (we’re looking at you town houses and cottage lots!), and for those developing within precincts or with largesse land holdings, precinct design. Thus it is reasonable to consider that the framework established in Stage One of Design WA is only the first stage!

For those that can’t recall the Draft State Planning Policy 7.3 Apartment Design document released in 2018, a number of new items were introduced which are not currently focused upon directly in Part 6 of the R-Codes. We produced a list of such items and discussed it in a previous article on our old website. However, as times have changed and the draft has since been refined into State Planning Policy 7.3: Residential Design Codes Volume 2 – Apartments, we have re-worked the list to note the changes since then:



Part 3 – Siting the Development

  • Clause 3.1 – Site analysis and design response
  • Clause 3.2 – Orientation
  • Clause 3.3 – Existing tree retention
  • Clause 3.4 – Deep soil areas
  • Clause 3.7 – Public domain interface

Part 4 – Designing the Building

  • Clause 4.1 – Solar and daylight access
  • Clause 4.2 – Natural ventilation
  • Clause 4.3 – Ceiling heights
  • Clause 4.6 – Circulation and common spaces
  • Clause 4.8 – Acoustic privacy
  • Clause 4.9 – Noise and pollution
  • Clause 4.11 – Ground floor apartments
  • Clause 4.12 – Facades
  • Clause 4.13 – Roof design
  • Clause 4.15 – Planting on structures
  • Clause 4.16 – Universal design
  • Clause 4.17 – Adaptive reuse
  • Clause 4.18 – Mixed use
  • Clause 4.19 – Awnings and signage
  • Clause 4.20 – Energy efficiency
  • Clause 4.21 – Water management and conservation
  • Clause 4.22 – Waste management
  • Clause 4.23 – Building maintenance


Part 3 – Siting the Development

  • Clause 3.1 – Site analysis and design response
  • Clause 3.2 – Orientation
  • Clause 3.3 – Tree canopy and deep soil areas
  • Clause 3.6 – Public domain interface

Part 4 – Designing the Building

  • Clause 4.1 – Solar and daylight access
  • Clause 4.2 – Natural ventilation
  • Clause 4.3 – Size and Layout of Dwellings
  • Clause 4.5 – Circulation and common spaces
  • Clause 4.7 – Managing the impact of noise
  • Clause 4.8 – Dwelling Mix
  • Clause 4.9 – Universal Design
  • Clause 4.10 – Façade Design
  • Clause 4.11 – Roof Design
  • Clause 4.12 – Landscape Design
  • Clause 4.13 – Adaptive Reuse
  • Clause 4.14 – Mixed use
  • Clause 4.15 – Energy Efficiency
  • Clause 4.16 – Water management and Conservation
  • Clause 4.17 – Waste Management

You may have noticed some new clauses introduced, while others have simply been renumbered. To keep this article short and sweet so you can finish it before your coffee, we summarise the notable changes as follows:

Clause 3.3 -Tree canopy and deep soil areas:

Consolidates Clause 3.3 – Existing tree retention and Clause 3.4 – Deep soil areas of the draft policy. However, this clause provides more specific requirements for establishing deep soil zones, such as minimum required widths and areas in respect to the type of tree (small, medium, or large). The clause also provides an ‘Element Objective’ to increase or offset the amount of tree canopy lost in respect to the site‘s pre-development state. Notwithstanding, the alterations to the clause can be considered to provide more flexibility and guidance compared to the preceding clauses it replaced.

Clause 4.3 – Size and Layout of Dwellings:

No more shoe boxes for Barbie dolls. Apartments are now to be of a minimum size. Not only does this clause consolidate Clause 4.3 – Ceiling height and Clause 4.4 – Apartment size and layout, it also specifies minimum internal floor areas for different types of apartments and rooms as part of its ‘Acceptable Outcomes’, which somewhat act as ‘go-to’ provisions in respect to achieving the ‘Element Objectives’ of a particular clause. Minimum internal dimensions are also specified for bedrooms and living rooms. Should this be difficult to achieve, the relevant ‘Design Guidance’ provisions provide scope for alternative solutions which can meet the objectives.

Clause 4.7 – Managing the impact of noise:

Consolidates Clause 4.8 – Acoustic Privacy and Clause 4.9 – Noise and Pollution, albeit dropping any focus on pollution. Unlike the predecessor clauses, this new clause now provides ‘Acceptable Outcomes’.

Clause 4.8 – Dwelling Mix:

Like a good buffet, housing supply benefits from featuring a larger variety of options to choose from. As a result, this clause supersedes its predecessor clause from the draft policy (Clause 4.10 – Apartment Mix), and now features ‘Acceptable Outcomes’. Now, the types of multiple dwellings proposals are to be in accordance with the objectives and targets specified in the relevant local housing strategy/policy. Otherwise, if there’s more than 10 dwelling being proposed, at least 20% of them must have differing bedroom numbers. The different types of dwellings must also be mixed (like the ingredients of a good stir-fry) and distributed throughout the development and floor levels. If you find this hard to achieve, look to the Design Guidance provisions!

Clause 4.10 – Façade Design:

As you can image, it precedes the previous Clause 4.12 – Facades of the draft policy, yet it also absorbs provisions of the former ‘Awnings and signage’ clause of the draft policy (Clause 4.19). The updated clause now features an additional ‘Element Objective’ calling for building facades to express its internal functions (i.e. make it easier to tell what parts of the building are used for without relying on signage), and to also provide visual interest when viewed from public areas. The desire for articulation is also emphasized to a greater extent, and more ‘Design Guidance’ provisions are provided – even one seeking to reduce events of bird-window collisions! (you have to feel sorry for those birds).

Clause 4.12 – Landscape Design:

Consolidates the previous ‘Landscape Design’ and ‘Planting on Structures’ clauses of the draft policy (Clauses 4.14 and 4.15 respectively). As with many of the updated and reworked clauses, it provides a larger range of ‘Acceptable Outcomes’ and ‘Design Guidance’ provisions. However, this clause also features ‘Element objectives’ requiring landscape design which enhances the streetscape, outdoor living areas, and views from habitable rooms, and complements the design of the development and its layout.

Clause 4.18 – Utilities:

This clause introduces provisions focusing on the appropriate location of utilities so that they can be readily accessed for ease of use and maintenance, yet are not visually obtrusive upon view from the street or open space in the development site. The clause also calls upon the locations of fibre network connections to be considered earlier in design so as to help ‘future-proof’ the development and mitigate costly retrofitting.

(Draft Policy): Clause 4.23 – Building maintenance:

While this clause has been removed from the final document and not merged with another, it must be noted that aspects of it has been incorporated throughout other clauses of the policy. In any case, the durability of a building and the ability to maintain it remains important! It may take a year or two to build, but it would likely remain for the world to see and visit for many more!

And that’s a wrap! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing it. On a final note, you may wish to know that the ‘Primary Controls’ table has also had a makeover. I leave this link here so that you may inspect it along with the rest of the State Planning Policy 7.3: Residential Design Codes Volume 2 – Apartments document yourself.

What are your thoughts on these changes? We’d love to hear them! Feel welcome to send an email or have a casual chat about them with one of us today on (08) 9355 5484.