On 2 July 2021, new amendments to State Planning Policy 7.3 – Residential Design Codes Vol 1 (R-Codes) took effect in Western Australia. 

By way of background, the R-Codes are a State Planning Policy that outlines the design principles for single houses, grouped dwellings and multiple dwellings (in areas coded less than R40) in Western Australia. The R-Codes were last amended in May 2019. 

The new amendments were introduced following a review conducted by the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) in mid-2020 as part of the State Government’s economic recovery response to COVID-19.

The WAPC undertook public consultation of the proposed changes and a total of 97 submissions were received from various stakeholders including local government.

At a high level, the amendments deal with the following areas: 

  • street set back requirements for carports, verandas, patios, balconies and the like (cl 5.1.2); 
  • lot boundary setback requirements in relation to single storey height walls and boundary walls (cl 5.1.3); 
  • set back requirements for garages and carports and garage width (cl 5.2); 
  • street walls and fencing requirements to include solid pillars (cl 5.2.4);
  • tree ratio requirements for dwellings and parking (cl 5.3.2 and 5.3.3); 
  • consolidation of the provisions for site works and retaining walls (cl 5.3.7 and 5.3.8); 
  • introduction of two categories of “outbuildings” (cl 5.4.3); and 
  • ancillary dwelling requirements (cl 5.5.1). 

The rationale behind the amendments is to: 

  • provide for more generous deemed to comply provisions to address common triggers that have previously necessitated a development application for small scale developments, such as outbuildings, patios, retaining walls, and boundary walls; 
  • bring provisions in line with contemporary home design, including higher floor to ceiling heights and various roof forms; 
  • simplify tables and figures;  
  • improve outdoor living areas and landscaping to enhance outdoor lifestyle; and 
  • remove the requirement for development approval for singles houses (on lots under 260m2) where the deemed to comply provisions have been met. 

The State Government is also separately proposing to implement in late 2022 a Medium Density Code.  The proposed code will apply to single houses and grouped dwellings in areas coded R30 and above and multiple dwellings coded R30-R60. 

Further information and resources about the recent amendments can be obtained from the Department of Planning Lands and Heritage website.

If you have any queries in regard to this briefing note, please contact Matt Reid (Partner) at Jackson McDonald. Matt regularly works with property valuers on dispute matters including compulsory land acquisition cases, market rent disputes, rates objections and court cases where the value of property is relevant to the assessment of damages and loss.