What is State Planning Policy 7.3: Residential Design Codes – Volume 1 (R-Codes)? Why are the R-Codes being reviewed?
The R-Codes is a State Planning Policy that sets out the basis of design and assessment for single houses, grouped dwellings and multiple dwellings (less than R40) in Western Australia. Generally, single houses and ancillary structures such as patios, sheds or carports that meet the deemed-to-comply provisions of the R-Codes do not require development approval.
What changes are being proposed?
The review is one of several initiatives underway as part of the State Government’s economic recovery response to COVID-19.
These proposed changes are an interim measure, aimed at streamlining the approval process for single houses, grouped dwellings, multiple dwellings (coded less than R40), and ancillary structures through simpler assessment methods, revised standards and clearer phrasing of clauses.
What are the deemed-to-comply provisions and how will the proposed amendments make assessment easier?
The proposed changes will:
- provide more generous deemed-to-comply provisions for common development triggers such as outbuildings, patios, retaining walls, boundary walls and setbacks
- simplify tables and figures
- improve outdoor living areas and landscaping
- remove the requirement for development approval for single houses on lots under 260m2
- integrate certain medium density standards from Planning Bulletin 112 – Medium density single house development standards – Development Zones.
Will this make it easier for me to build a shed (outbuilding), deck or patio?
Deemed-to-comply provisions are development standards that proposals are measured against, and if met (and the use is permitted), proposals can progress without the need for development approval.
Development approval is only required for a single house where the proposal does not meet the deemed-to-comply provisions of the R-Codes. When this occurs, a development application is required, and the decision-maker will assess the application against the corresponding design principle.
Some of these provisions will be simplified to make it easier for R-Codes users to determine whether an application meets the deemed-to-comply provisions or not. Key changes include simplifying calculations for lot boundary setbacks, building heights, and site works and retaining walls.
How will the amendments improve the quality of outdoor living areas?
Yes - amendments to the deemed-to comply standards will make it easier to build sheds (outbuildings), decks and patios. These include allowing small sheds to be built up to lot boundaries, reducing side setbacks and permitting more generous encroachments into front setbacks. Compliant structures will not require development approval, but a building permit may still be required.
Under the proposed changes, will development approval still be required for single houses?
The amendments include clear provisions requiring a consolidated outdoor living area and an area where a tree can be planted for each dwelling. This will provide greater opportunities for enjoyment of outdoor areas and gardens.
Generous amendments to setbacks, boundary wall provisions and open spaces mean that there will be greater developable area on site to compensate for the revised outdoor living area standards.
Are other changes to the R-Codes being considered as part of this interim review?
Development approval is required currently for a single house where the proposal does not meet the deemed-to-comply provisions of the R-Codes.
Simpler deemed-to-comply provisions will make it easier to determine if a development application is required and consequently, result in fewer proposals requiring development approval.
How does this interim R-Codes review integrate with the Medium Density Housing Policy currently under development as part of Design WA?
Additional changes suggested through the submission period will be considered if the amendments can be implemented quickly to support economic recovery.
When will these changes come into effect?
The review is an interim response to the economic challenges of the current COVID-19 environment and is aimed at streamlining dwelling approval processes, while achieving good design outcomes.
This review is separate from the Design WA Medium Density Housing Policy.
What resources are available if I have questions about my proposed development once the R-Codes amendments are gazetted?
Any proposed changes will need to be considered by the Western Australian Planning Commission and if supported, they will come into effect once a notice is published in the Government Gazette, most likely towards the end of the year.
Will additional resources be made available to help local government assessors once the R-Codes amendments are gazetted?
Yes, updates to the frequently asked questions (FAQs), Explanatory Guidelines and Practice Notes will be provided to reflect the policy changes.
Where further advice and assistance is required, advice can be sought from the local government where applications for development approval are lodged and assessed.
Local governments can seek advice on the R-Codes provisions from, the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage local area teams, and the Design WA team at DesignWA@dplh.wa.gov.au