The new medium density codes were due for rollout in Western Australia in 2021. After considerable consultation and significant concern during community consultation however, and some reshuffling of priorities in the department of planning’s agenda, the rollout was pushed back a year. Fast forward a year, and that time is fast approaching. The department is now targeting a release of the codes in the second half of 2022.
The new codes will impact the subdivision and development of all sites coded R30 to R60 in WA. Whilst the parameters for subdivision remain mostly unchanged (minimum and average lot sizes remain unchanged), the output of built form and how this is coordinated on the sites will change significantly. The new proposed regulations present some new opportunities, but also some serious threats to yield, particularly for triplex and quad sites in the R40 to R60 coding areas.
Subdivision Experts attended an information session updating us on the latest proposed changes to those codes, based on the first round of feedback. These new changes are still in draft format but provides some indication as to where we are heading. A summary of key changes is provided below:
- Category 1,2,3 sites, with bonus density increases for cat 2 and 3 sites, has been scrapped.
- The strict requirement for north facing outdoor living areas has been removed.
- minum garden area space dimensions remain – far higher and more stringent landscape requirements ( the days of mulch, drippers and a few shrubs are over)
- Retained dwellings are technically required to be retrospectively upgraded, even internally (room sizes etc) to comply with the new codes. There will be (allegedly) limited retrospective upgrade requirements required internally. A guideline will be prepared, and practical discretion granted to Local government. This is a key risk area for developer sin MD areas, we are not sure at this point what is more concerning at this point. The requirement to perform upgrades or the indication that local government will be given discretion to determine what is a pass grade.
- Boundary wall height restriction removal in r50 and r60 to promote terrace home typologies.
- The % open space requiring in current R-codes is being scrapped in favour of assessing % site cover, excluding common property towards open space. This effectively excludes Common property form open space calculations and will have an impact on size of dwelling footprint on each lot. This is the second major risk item we see- this could significantly impact yield and the design of a large enough or functional dwelling on smaller lot sin triplex and quad scenarios. % of site cover increased by 10% in r40, but still substantially under what you would get away with in a % of open space scenario.
- 20% deep soil zone requirement replaced with 20% soft landscaping requirement.
- New visitor parking ratios.
- Significant introduction of universal access design requirements, even for retained dwellings.
- big changes to “special purpose dwelling” standards, notably scrapping of habitable room restrictions with Single bed dwellings and the 5 or more rule for aged dependent persons dwellings.
Simply put, there are some big changes coming, and some of them will come at substantial cost or difficulty to implement for the infill developer. What is a triplex or quad site today, may no longer practically be one once these codes are in place. Further, the cost of retaining a dwelling may increase substantially. Some big impacts to the bottom line, but also some significant opportunities exist. Have you kept on top of the changes? Where do you see opportunities? Or you didn’t even know they were happening?
If you haven’t, and your site is between R30 and R60, its worth getting in touch with us to see what impact the new codes will have on your site, and if you are better off:
- Using the new codes to your advantage
- Activating your site now under the existing policy framework to avoid losing yield.
Reach out soon, the changes will be in place sooner than you know!