How do I subdivide my land?
One of the earliest and most important questions you will want answers to when subdividing is what is the process, and how long does it take? This part of the website will discuss the process around how to subdivide land in WA, the duration, and how this effects the project delivery overall. Its important to understand the subdivision process and how long it takes, as this will reduce the likelihood of lost time and mistakes. The process and its duration this will impact your overall project returns (interest on lending) and impact the build process too. Whether you are staging your development or subdividing and building concurrently at the same time will also have an important impact on risk, duration, returns and finance for the project.
In Western Australia, the subdivision process is slightly different to the subdivision process in other parts of Australia. The major difference is that the applications for subdivision (land development) are received, processed and centrally administered by the West Australian Planning Commission (the WAPC), not by local councils. Whilst the local councils are stakeholders in the process and are consulted by the WAPC, ultimate decision making authority rests with the WAPC.
The council receives and administers applications for planning approval that are not land development related (ie dwelling construction). In general summary, the subdivision process is administered at a state government level by the WAPC, and the Development Approval (DA) process for dwelling construction is dealt with by the council at a local government level. This is an important distinction to grasp when learning how to subdivide land in WA and then considering building. Subdivision and dwelling construction, whilst related activities, are separate processes administered by different bodies in this state. The two processes can be run concurrently (subdividing land and building at same time) or staged ( subdivide land first and then build or vice versa). If running both processes at the same time, both processes must be carefully managed to avoid problems that may impact clearance sand title issue at the end.
How long does the subdivision process take?
The time taken to complete physical work during the subdivision process is relatively minor if added up- usually a month or less. What takes a lot of time is the processes around making applications to and dealing with all the statutory bodies who are stakeholders in the subdivision process. Your initial application to the WAPC for example, will alone take up to 90 days just to process, after which you will receive back a decision letter that will require further administrative work such as consultation, applicants and service agreement requests with stakeholders who have imposed conditions in your returned decision letter (conditional approval). Stakeholders will be bodies such as the Local council, Watercorp, and Western Power (the latter taking up to seven weeks just to process a service agreement request). There can be a lot of administrative work to do before earth is broken and sites cleared.
Even once all the conditions in the decision letter are satisfied, there is a whole clearance and title production process involving the WAPC, Landgate and your bank that can take a few more months. All in all, and exceptional turnaround time for a typical small lot subdivision, to the point of having titles in hand, is 7-9 months. For most people, 9-12 months is more realistic, and you should be prepared for a year when planning your project. Large statutory bodies move a their own pace, and there is nothing you can do to rush them along!