Subdivision is the process of developing and titling new lots over an existing parent lot of land. The number of lots created will be affected by the size of the parent lot in question, statutory planning provisions and project finance constraints. The end product is parcels of land you can sell for a profit, build on or retain for future use. With proper planning and well managed project delivery, subdivision is a very safe way to make money, and can be repeated with the right strategy approach and successful execution of profitable projects.
At FLYNN our objective is to provide you with the information, education and services you need to make your project a success so you can build your wealth with the right property development strategies. You can learn more about subdivision as part of overall development strategy in our books and courses, in the courses and training section of our website.
The subdivision potential of your land and how/if you can subdivide will be determined by the following:
- The zoning(allowable use) and density coding of your property on your Local Government or Councils “Local Scheme Map”, and subsequently your ability to meet relevant requirements in the State governments Residential Design Codes and the Local Government Scheme Text. The map will show the density code of all residential zoned land in the schemes boundaries.
- The performance requirements specified in West Australian Planning Commissions (WAPC) Residential Design Codes, which stipulate minimum and average lot sizes for residential density coding annotated on a relevant Scheme map. Read more about how this will impact your ability to subdivide and how important it is on the subdividing land in Western Australia page of our website.
- If you wish to retain the existing dwelling as part of a subdivision, the orientation, positioning and condition of the dwelling may impact the subdivision potential of the project.
A subdivision is a multi stepped process. We provide a detailed overview on the subdivision process for Survey Strata and Green title applications on the how to subdivide land page of our website.
At FLYNN, we encourage thorough planning and realistic expectations for project delivery.
Here is the process in a nutshell:
After the initial survey, planning and application the West Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) has 3 months to reach a verdict on a Form 1A subdivision application and issue conditions for approval. This is issued in a Decision Letter. The number of conditions and their complexity will determine the length of the project from there. The construction and civil works can occur at reasonable speed to meet conditions of clearance.
The speed at which different utility providers and Local Governments work to facilitate clearances however will vary. This is the lengthy part of the subdivision process. Most people take 6-12 months to clear all the conditions.
The good news is you have 3 years from the date of your conditional approval to clear all the conditions, and 4 years if you are producing more than 5 lots.
Once a clearance application (Form 1C) is submitted to the (WAPC) it is usually cleared in approx 4 weeks. A settlement agent can then lodge for titles with Landgate, with an average turnaround of another 4-6 weeks.
Survey strata applications are a common type of subdivision application used for small lot subdivisions as an alternative to freehold title creation (green title) . Survey strata provides more flexibility in lot sizing because Common Property can be used, and a reduction in development cost because of a potential for shared services and access.
Subdivided lots are created under the Strata Titles Act and are known as ‘survey strata’. Note the following important considerations;
- All lots on the survey strata can have their own drive and access way if there is sufficient space to do so during design, or share a driveway for access. Shared driveways are “Common Property”. This will be its own lot under the survey strata plan. All owners of property on the survey strata using the driveway will be equally liable to contributions for maintenance and upkeep.
- Properties on survey strata may be subject to rules and regulations regarding things like appearance, design and height depending on the relevant Local Government Authority where the property is situated.
- It is also possible for a single connection to be shared for utilities, such as sub-metering or shared connections for water, sewer and power. This can save significant costs when looking at 3+ lot developments.
- It is a myth that you need need to build the same as your neighbour on survey strata titles or need to seek your neighbours permission to build what you want. The only time this will be necessary is if you are proposing a design feature that deviates from the R-code or relevant local planning policy provisions (as with any normal development application).
Costs can only be definitively calculated after the Form 1A (conditional Approval) is lodged and the WAPC has given us the conditions for approval- these conditions will drive project scope moving forward, and determine the work to be done. Some of these costs require production of drawings (planning phase), which allow us to accurately cost their execution (construction phase).
Using our experience and a database of previous subdivisions in a multitude of localities across WA, we are able to provide cost estimates for most subdivision projects. For clients still deciding if their project is feasible, FLYNN provide a number of services designed to give you the confidence and support you need to affect a go/no go decision at the start of the project. You can learn to perform your own feasibility studies with us or engage us to perform them for you.
Feasibility studies and reporting are essential to assess scope; timeline and costs specific to your project and give you a better idea of whats involved with your particular subdivision project.
In General, costs will include a combination of the following:
- Surveying costs. This will depend on the number of lots and type of subdivision application being made.
- Project management fees (if applicable),
- WAPC application fees. The WAPC sets fixed fees for the consideration of the Form 1A and 1C applications. A standard 2 lot subdivision would have WAPC fees of approximately $3500 and $600 dollars respectively for each stage.
- Contributions to utility providers and Local Government
- R-code compliance upgrades to any retained dwellings
- Civil/drainage and geotechnical engineering, planning and certification fees
- Preparation of subdivision lots and associated site work costs including demolition, site clearing, earthworks and retaining
- Drainage and access leg upgrades and installation costs.
- Holding costs and rates
- Building costs
The average small lot subdivision would cost most people upwards of $40 000.
The West Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) administers and approves/rejects all survey strata and green title Subdivision applications. Your local council (local government) is consulted during the application process by the WAPC as a stakeholder regarding conditions they would like imposed as part of the conditional approval process. They are not however, the ultimate decision maker in the process. All applications are received, reviewed and ultimately approved or refused by the West Australian Planning Commission (WAPC). Local government will only become the a more involved decision maker for Survey Strata and green title applications Going for higher coding in Dual Coded areas. Some built strata subdivisions can be approved at a local government level via delegated authority for the WAPC without going to the WAPC (less than 5 lots).
The R-Codes are the Residential Design Codes of Western Australia, also known as state planning policy 7.3 volume 1. It is the principle document which guides low and medium density residential planning and development in the state of Western Australia. All developments much achieve the standards outlined in the R-Codes (lot sizes etc) as a minimum, if proposed subdivision or development is to be approved by the appropriate decision making authority (WAPC or Local government) .
The R Codes are the basic framework all developments must comply with. Developments must also comply with provisions of Local Planning Policies and Schemes. Local Government is empowered to modify and supplement some of the performance requirements in the R-codes (as outlines in section 7 of those codes in Volume 1) . So they may exceed or reduce requirements of the R-codes. All enquiries relating to interpretation of provisions of the R-Codes must be directed to the relevant local government where the development proposal is located. There is more detailed information on the application of the R-Codes and how they effect subdivision on the Subdividing Land in Western Australia page of our website.
Survey strata is the creation of lots that adjoin each other (single or grouped dwellings) with entitlement to a portion of the parent lot through a survey strata title. These lots may share common property such as driveways and also share utility connections. . Existing dwellings may be retained on a survey strata lot
Green title (freehold) is the development of lots that may or may not adjoin each other, with no encumbrances or rights of access from neighbouring freehold lots. Differently to survey strata, common property is not allowable on a green title development site, nor is sharing utility connection points. Each green title lot must have its own independent utility connections and street access (easements for reciprocal right of access useable in extenuating circumstances)
Battle-axe is a colloquial term that does not refer specifically to any subdivision application type overseen by the West Australian Planning Commission. It will commonly refer to the L shape of the access leg and rear lot created under a two lot green title subdivision or survey strata subdivision with a retained dwelling and separate access for both lots (no Common Property). The access leg of a battle-axe lot must be 4 meters wide and cannot exceed 20% of the total site area of the rear battle-axe lot.
Built strata is where the building envelopes themselves form the boundaries of the lots created in grouped or multiple dwelling configurations, with driveways and the like being common property. Importantly the dwellings are built first, the boundary surveys and titles created after construction is finished. It is the other way around with survey strata or green title generally. If you are doing less than 5 lots, you will be dealing with the local government only, (no WAPC involvement).
There are benefits and disadvantages to each approach, mostly centered around development speed and your ability to get finance for built strata in the current market without substantial deposits. Call Us or Email Us to discuss what is right for you.