The proposed amendments to the Western Australia Residential Design Codes (R-Codes) came into effect on 2 August 2013. We provide a brief overview of key changes.

Changes to minimum lot sizes

Part of the rationale behind the R-Code amendments was the changing social demands on the building and development industry. The minimum lot area for R20 single house or groups dwellings has been reduced to 450m². Minimum lots areas have also been reduced for R25-40 and R60.

Introduction of R80

A new R80 zone has been introduced with a minimum lot area of 380m² and a site area per dwelling of 100m². A minimum of 30% of the total site must be open space, with a minimum setback of 1m from the primary street. There are no minimum frontage requirements.

Evolution of ‘the Granny Flat’

Previously, backyard residences known as ‘Granny Flats’ were only able to be used by family members of the primary dwelling. This restriction has been abolished. Such residences can now be occupied by any person, and are therefore able to be released on the rental market. The maximum floor space has also increased to 70m² and the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) encourages creativity and innovation with the new ancillary accommodation clauses, such as developing areas above garages.

Public transport reduces parking requirements

Required car parking spaces can be reduced, if a proposed development is within 800m of a train line, or 250m from a public transport route.

Impact of amendments on subdivision

The R-Codes are not intended to prescribe subdivision design. The operational policy DC 2.2 provides for this instead. DC 2.2 has been updated but further amendments will be made at a date not yet specified by the WAPC. The only amendments of note being made to the DC 2.2 at present are changing references to lot sizes to reflect the amended R-Codes.

Designing for climate

R-Codes contain ‘design for climate’ provisions, including provisions relating to solar access on adjoining sites. The provisions require proponents to calculate potential overshadowing caused by the development on midday on the winter solstice (21 June). The maximum overshadowing limits for various density codes are expressed as a percentage of the adjoining site area.

Planning approval on small lots

The amended R-Codes have reduced the lot size area requiring development approval to 260m². This also applies to any single house lots created by a Local Development Plan or Local Structure Plan. Local planning policies cannot override this, but regard should be had to the provisions of Local Planning Schemes in the event of any inconsistency.