The Residential Design Codes explained – one piece at a time.

Issue 3: R-Codes Clause 5.2.2 – Garage Widths – C2

For this clause, a ‘deemed-to-comply’ provision listed, states the following:

C2 – Where a garage is located in front or within 1m of the building, a garage door and its supporting structures (or a garage wall where a garage is aligned parallel to the street) facing the primary street is not to occupy more than 50 per cent of the frontage at the setback line as viewed from the street. This may be increased to 60 per cent where an upper floor or balcony extends for the full width of the garage and the entrance to the dwelling is clearly visible from the primary street (refer to Figure 8c).

For a long period of time throughout the expansion of Perth’s suburbs, achieving this requirement had not been an issue. Housing density was lower, Suburban lots were typically larger and wider, and it was common for many houses to feature a garage for only one car, or a carport.

Mid-20th century suburban streetscape.

Suburban streetscape established circa late 1970’s – 1980’s.

Fast forward to the 21st century, it is rare for a new stand-alone house to not feature a garage capable of storing two cars side by side. The focus on limiting urban sprawl and facilitating new housing stock closer to amenities has seen increasing residential densities and the creation of smaller, narrower lots.

This has seen the need by the Western Australian Planning Commission’s (WAPC) to ensure that garage widths are appropriately proportioned and/or positioned in respect to their associated dwelling. The lack of such requirements can result in creation of visually unattractive streetscapes dominate by garage doors, as demonstrated in the following image.

Streetscape with narrow lots and dominated by garage doors.

However, with the understanding that many newly created lots feature widths of just 12m or less, the R-Codes have allowed for garages which occupy a width greater than 50% of the lot frontage, provided that they are setback at least 1m behind the dwelling. This results in a more visually attractive streetscape and provides greater sense of perceived surveillance from major openings. Please refer to the following image in this regard.

Streetscape with narrow lots and garage located behind the dwelling alignment.

Despite the above, it is understood that in some instances it is still difficult to comply to the R-Codes ‘deemed-to-comply’ garage width requirements. This is particularly the case for certain irregularly shaped lots, and instances where, by way of lot size and shape, it is difficult to feature both a useable backyard and a garage located 1m or more behind the dwelling. In these instances, it is reasonable to consider proposing a variation to the R-Codes ‘deemed-to-comply’ requirements. However, when doing so, it is important to consider the purpose of the requirement, and how the proposal can be designed to ensure that streetscape aesthetics and visual connectivity is not unduly compromised.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the garage width requirements are reasonable? Does your proposal feature a garage? Feel free to contact us if you would to discuss any of these matters further.

*Images obtained from Google Street View