What happened to the former R-Codes (SPP 3.1)on 24 May 2019? What happens to the existing local planning policies that were properly adopted before gazettal of the new R-Codes?
On 24 May 2019, the former R-Codes (SPP3.1) were renamed State Planning Policy 7.3 Residential Design Codes Volume 1, with all existing content retained except for Part 6.
The new State Planning Policy 7.3 R-Codes Volume 2 replaces the content of Part 6 of SPP 3.1 and focusses on improved design outcomes for apartments (multiple dwellings).
How does Design WA Stage One apply to apartments on land without an R-Code or to MRA and Improvement Scheme Areas?
This is covered in greater depth within section 1.2 of SPP7.3 Volume 2 (R-Codes Vol. 2). Please note that there are no changes to local planning frameworks that only deal with development under Part 5 of the R Codes.
Local governments will need to ensure that local planning policies and local development plans structure plans and activity centre plans that amend or replace sections identified in clause 1.2.3 are appropriately adopted, current and consistent with the new R-Codes. A properly-adopted local planning framework with provisions covering matters identified in clause 1.2.2 will continue to apply.
Local Planning Policies and Local Development Plans
For pre-existing local planning policies and local development plans, R-Codes Vol. 2 will prevail to the extent of any inconsistency over local planning provisions covering matters identified in clause 1.2.3.
We encourage local governments to audit their local planning policies and local development plans. Where a local government wishes to retain local planning policies and local development plans containing provisions which amend or replace the Acceptable Outcomes of the Elements listed in clause 1.2.3, these will need to be submitted to the Department for WAPC approval. Local governments were not expected to have these approved by WAPC before gazettal on 24 May 2019. The Department will work with local government on the process for WAPC to approve local planning frameworks that amend or replace parts of R-Codes Vol. 2 where required.
Structure Plans and Activity Centre Plans
At its 1 May 2019 meeting, the WAPC resolved that the provisions of all properly approved structure plans and activity centre plans (ie those approved by the WAPC since 19 October 2015) that existed prior to the gazettal of R-Codes Vol.2 (24 May 2019) that amend or replace any of the provisions of R-Codes Vol.2 will continue to apply to the extent of any inconsistencies and are not superseded by R-Codes Vol.2. This means that pre-existing properly adopted structure plans and activity centre plans will not be required to be submitted for WAPC approval and will continue to apply.
A Position Statement has been prepared to assist local governments and stakeholders in determining which instruments require WAPC approval.
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If amendments are required to a development application approved before Design WA Stage One took effect, does the entire application need to be reassessed or only the aspect being amended?
This largely depends on what the relevant scheme provision that reads the R-Codes into the scheme provides for. Clause 25(4) of the model provisions contained in the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 provides: “The R-Codes apply to an area if the area has a coding number superimposed on it in accordance with subclause (3).” Therefore, for schemes that are consistent with the model provisions, it will be the case that the R-Codes apply where there is a coding number on the scheme map. In all other instances, the R-Codes will need to be given ‘due regard’ in accordance with clause 67(c) of the deemed provisions.
It is noted that in the previous Part 6 of the former R-Codes (SPP 3.1), land zoned for mixed use development without an assigned R-Code should be assessed as R-AC3. This is no longer included in the new R-Codes (SPP 7.3). Further consultation with the Department is encouraged in these limited instances for mixed use zone land without an R-Coding.
The R-Codes will generally not apply to land within Improvement Scheme Areas and MRA redevelopment areas unless stated within the scheme text. For further clarification, please contact the relevant authority.
When should local governments require advertising to adjoining owners and occupiers?
If the application was not approved before 24 May 2019, local authorities will be required to assess it under SPP7.3 R-Codes Volume 2. This also applies where modifications are proposed to existing development approvals. For details on specific proposals, please contact the relevant local government.
Design WA Stage One is performance-based. How will this hold up with respect to applications for review at the State Administrative Tribunal?
Part 4 of the former R-Codes (SPP 3.1) set out the consultation practices for residential development and will continue to apply to both volumes of the R-Codes – including Volume 2 which replaces Part 6 of SPP 3.1 upon gazettal of Design WA Stage One on 24 May 2019.
It is noted that the former R-Codes were definitive with regards to consultation not being required where a proposal met deemed-to-comply (refer to Part 4 of SPP 3.1). Whilst there is no deemed-to-comply pathway under SPP7.3 Volume 2,
a performance-based design and assessment has similarities with the design principles under Part 6 of the former R-Codes.
Under SPP7.3 Volume 2, there may be grounds for consultation where a proposal utilises the design guidance approach and there is a possible impact on the amenity of adjoining owners and occupiers. Consultation may also be specifically required by the applicable planning scheme or relevant local planning policy.
It is recommended that local governments review their public consultation framework and procedures to ensure alignment.
How will Design WA Stage One be applied consistently across local governments and Development Assessment Panels?
Performance-based design principles identify the objectives to be met without prescribing how to achieve them. This allows flexibility for developers and designers to provide innovative solutions to design challenges and to better reconcile design requirements against the complexities of site and content.
Good decision making is based on evidence and well-considered information.
Design review is an essential component of this approach as qualitative assessment is required to determine whether the required performance outcomes have been achieved. Engaging in design review early in the process will help proponents improve the design quality of their project and application, hopefully enabling a smoother approvals process. Where a matter is referred to the State Administrative Tribunal for review and the quality of the design is a key consideration in this process, the Design Review Panel Chair may be invited to attend proceedings to discuss the proposal.
Are design statements required for all buildings, such as apartments, commercial, industrial, etc?
The Department has briefed all metropolitan local governments and various Development Assessment Panel members on the Design WA Stage One policies and this will continue where required post-implementation on 24 May 2019. Similar briefings have also been undertaken with most major regional local governments.
In addition, SPP 7.3 and the Design Review Guide include templates in their appendices. The Word versions of these templates are available under ‘Additional Resources’ on our Design WA Stage 1 documents and additional resources page. The templates have been provided to assist consistency in approach across local governments and provide greater certainty to proponents, and may be tailored where this is required to suit specific scheme or other local requirements.
The Office of the Government Architect will be offering training for Design Review Panel Chairs to improve consistency in the design review process. Please contact them for further information via firstname.lastname@example.org or (08) 6551 9483.
How does Design WA Stage One improve the retention of trees when land is developed?
No. A design statement is not a requirement for an application but may be beneficial for many projects particularly for complex proposals. SPP7.0 deals with design statements (see section 6) and outlines the matters to be covered in a design statement should one be submitted. A design statement may be particularly useful where another form of design review is not available. In all cases, the onus is on the proponent to justify / demonstrate that the proposal is meeting the Design Principles in SPP7.0. It is all about achieving better design outcomes.
Does Design WA Stage One specify a minimum screening height for visual privacy?
The removal of trees from private land is contributing to a significant loss of urban tree canopy which can take decades to replace and has added to community concerns around infill. Trees and gardens make a significant contribution to the ecology, character and amenity of neighbourhoods. As well as improving apartment outlook and privacy, they provide habitat for fauna, shade, stormwater management and microclimate benefits.
In SPP 7.3 Volume 2, Element 3.3 ‘Tree canopy and deep soil areas’ requires that site planning maximises retention of existing trees and protects the viability of adjoining trees. It also requires adequate measures to be taken to improve tree canopy over the long term, and deep soil or other infrastructure to support planting on structures.
As a new design Element being incorporated into the R-Codes, careful attention was given to both the Acceptable Outcomes and Design Guidance to assist stakeholders to ensure a positive outcome.
How do I measure the average side setbacks set out in Table 2.1?
The design of apartments must balance the need for outlook and daylight access with the need for privacy. Design Guidance 3.5.5 in SPP 7.3 Volume 2 suggests screening devices as a potential alternative solution to satisfy the Element Objectives for Visual Privacy.
How do I assess the solar and daylight access Acceptable Outcome A 4.1.1?
The intent of this provision is to address long articulated walls alongside boundaries and provide for articulation. The average setback is calculated for the length of the building adjacent to the boundary. It is important to note that the average and minimum side setbacks specified in Table 2.1 are Acceptable Outcomes only and do not guarantee the Element Objectives have been met.
Please refer to 2.4 Side and rear setbacks - Calculating average side setbacks, in the technical guidance section for more information.
How do I assess the natural ventilation Acceptable Outcome A 4.2.2(b)?
The intent of element 4.1 Solar and daylight access, is to optimise the number of dwellings that receive winter sunlight to habitable rooms.
Orientation of habitable spaces is one of the critical factors in determining solar access, however it is important to consider other factors such as building separation, balcony depth and ceiling height. Figure 4.1b has been provided to demonstrate if the orientation of the private open space and windows to habitable rooms are capable of achieving 2 hours of direct sunlight between 9am and 3pm on 21 June.
It is expected that proponents should provide clear and accurate information to demonstrate the Element Objectives have been met.
Please refer to 4.1 Solar and daylight access – Demonstrating solar access, in the technical guidance section for more information.
One of the most efficient ways to ensure dwellings are naturally cross ventilated is by providing dual aspect apartments. This is not always achievable due to specific site conditions, so A2.2.2(b) provides an option for single aspect apartments to meet the Acceptable Outcomes. A4.2.2(b) provides the optimum orientation to achieve this with:
00 - 450 of the prevailing cooling wind = Fair orientation
450 - 900 of the prevailing cooling wind = Optimum orientation
Orientation for natural ventilation should consider location and site context. In some environments direct orientation to the prevailing wind is preferable, however often in coastal locations shelter from the prevailing wind is necessary. Natural ventilation also needs to be balanced against solar access orientation requirements.
Please refer to 4.2 Natural ventilation – Optimal orientation for natural ventilation, in the technical guidance section for more information.