Can I subdivide the property I’m looking at buying? Learn the basics of subdividing land in WA.

What are the planning rules around subdividing land?

Do you want to know if you can subdivide your land?  Learn about the important factors from a planning perspective that impact your property’s subdivision potential on this page.Whether your budget is large or small, you’re a big time developer or not, there are planning laws that applies to everyone subdividing land in Western Australia. Most of our clients want to know about the cost to subdivide land in Perth. An equally important, and perhaps better place to start is to answer the question “Can I subdivide my land?”.

Western Australia allows larger parcels of land to be subdivided into smaller ones. Whether or not subdivision is possible is guided by your ability to comply with performance criteria published in a design policy document called the Residential Design Codes  ( also known as The R-Codes, being State planning Policy 7.3 volumes 1 and 2.)

Consultation of the R-Codes density coding allowances will allow us to determine the subdivision potential of a block of land anywhere in Western Australia based on its current size and density coding.

Density coding is a number assigned to the land (ie. R20, R30, R40 etc). A land parcels density code can be found out by looking on the Local Government’s scheme map. The number means the number of dwellings permissible under that local scheme per hectare (10,000m2).​

For example; R25 would be 25 dwellings per 10,000m2. So when you are looking at subdividing land or buying somewhere to subdivide, use this formula as a reasonable guide to work out if you have enough land to create two or more lots.

The formula should be used as a guide only.This is because when grouping lots in different subdivision types (battle-axe, survey strata and green title types) the R-Codes also stipulate minimum and maximum setbacks, average and minimum lot sizes, access leg sizes and percentages for things like common property. ​

In general, when subdividing land, WA Planning requirements in the R-Codes stipulate that the dimensions, area and particulars of new lots in a subdivision must meet the requirements set out in Table 1 of the R-codes. A partial view of Table 1 from the R-Codes has been added below to illustrate these requirements. The full R-Codes Table 1 can be accessed in the R-codes (available online at the DPLH website).

WA R-Codes Table 1 for subdividing land

Concessions and Variations for Subdividing Land in WA

It is important to note that it is possible to subdivide land into lots that do not strictly comply with the R-code requirements by applying for allowable variations or concessions.

These concessions can be found in either the R-Codes, DC.2.2 or Local Government Planning Polices and Scheme Texts.

An application requesting a variation may require additional documentation for consideration by local government and/or the WAPC to support the variation. Each application will be carefully assessed on its merits and then approved or rejected. There is a whole article that discusses using concessions and variations on our blog, as well as a detailed learning module about applying them in our book and online course, available in our courses and training section of the website.

​Lastly, Corner Lots have had some special and exciting  concessions made for them late in 2017, making more of them easy to subdivide. There is more information on these important changes in our blog article, Subdividing land on corner lots.

Subdividing Land with Dual Density Coding

Sometimes when looking at subdividing land in certain councils you will discover an area which is dual coded on the scheme map.

For Example; A block that has R15/25 coding means that R15 is the base code applied with a normal subdivision application made to the WAPC. The parent lot may however be subdivided to R25, provided additional performance criteria set by the Local Government criteria can be met. Demonstration of compliance with extra criteria is often required by supplying additional documentation with the application to the WAPC, or sometimes by lodging a DA (Development Application) with the Local Council. There is a whole article discussing dual density coding on our blog.

More Information on Subdividing Land

You can learn more about state and local local government planning policies, variations and dual coding requirements by doing some training and courses, including via our online courses. Alternately you can contact us below to discuss your queries directly.

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