R Codes 2013TBB is pleased to advise that the much anticipated update to the Residential Design Codes (The R-Codes) was released in June and published in the Government Gazette on 2 August 2013.

As the primary document used for the assessment of residential subdivision and development, the review of the 2010 R-Codes was a long running process, but one that received strong support from both local government and the development industry. To assist our clients in navigating the new R-Codes provisions we have provided the following summary and analysis of key modifications:

GENERAL MODIFICATIONS

Whilst the document has been presented in a more user friendly and coherent format, the majority of the standards and the key principles underlying the R-Codes have largely been retained. The majority of the provisions have been renumbered, however, and where necessary the intent or definition of certain provisions has been made more explicit.

The revised document has primarily focused on the provisions for Single Dwellings and Grouped Dwellings, leaving the 2010 update of the Multi-Unit Codes largely unaltered. This is considered to be a sensible approach, as in our experience the flexibility incorporated within the Multi-Unit Codes is working very well, and has improved the feasibility of a number of higher density apartment and mixed-use developments throughout Western Australia.

Single/Grouped Lot Sizes

There has been a wholesale review of both the minimum and average lot sizes for Single Dwellings and Grouped Dwellings in all coding ranges, with a general reduction in the order of 4% to 35% in minimum lot size throughout the various coding ranges. The most significant of these amendments is the reduction of an R20 lot from a minimum of 440m2 to 350m2, and a reduction in R60 and R80 minimum lot size from 160m2 to 120m2 and 100m2 respectively.

These changes have come about as an extension of the State Government’s push towards greater residential density, particularly in infill developments, with the reduced minimum lot size opening up subdivision and redevelopment potential for a larger number of landowners within existing metropolitan suburbs. In Greenfield development areas this will also provide a greater opportunity for smaller lot product, particularly with the increasing popularity of narrow lot product and smaller ‘squat lots’.

R50+ Development Standards

Selected development standards for Single Dwellings and Grouped Dwellings within a coding above R50 have been modified to reflect a growing trend of R-Code variations undertaken via the Detailed Area Plan (Local Development Plan) process. These modifications largely focus on minimum percentage of open space, which have been reduced from 45% to 40% for R50 and R60 lots, and 30% for R80 and above, and minimum primary street setbacks, which have been reduced from a standard 4 metres to 2 metres for R50 and R60 lots, and 1m for R80 and above.

TBB considers that these modifications are entirely sensible and reflect the growing trend towards smaller lot product with reduced private open space areas, particularly in locations that are in close proximity to high quality public open space.

Car Parking Standards

The car parking standards for Single Dwellings and Grouped Dwellings have been revised to reflect that imposed for multiple dwellings, in that a reduction will be applicable where a dwelling is within 800m of a high frequency train station or 250m of a high frequency bus route. Whilst this appears to be a sensible proposal, we consider that the difficulty in marketing single lots with one car parking space only will result in developers more commonly applying a higher than required car parking provision.

Ancillary Accommodation (‘Granny Flats’)

The most publicised and long overdue modification to the R-Codes is in the application of ancillary accommodation permissibility, which previously required that any ‘granny flat’ constructed on a single lot was only permitted to be occupied by a familial relative of the occupants residing in the primary dwelling. The removal of this poorly considered and rarely enforced requirement was largely the result of a move by the City of Fremantle to allow the more liberal construction of ancillary accommodation throughout their locality, thereby increasing the available population density without dramatically altering the built form. The work of the City of Fremantle was widely applauded by the development and town planning industries respectively, and was subsequently adopted by the WAPC in their review of the R-Codes.

The modified provisions will now permit the construction of an ancillary dwelling of up to 70m2 in floor space on any single lot exceeding 450m2 in area, subject to compliance with the existing R-Code requirements for single dwellings. TBB would, however, recommend that landowners confirm the acceptability of an ancillary accommodation proposal with their local Council prior to making any financial investment, as we are aware of some outdated local planning schemes that retain provisions restricting the permissibility of such development inconsistent with the revised R-Codes.

Further Information:

For a copy of the 2013 Residential Design Codes or additional information relating to the review and Gazettal of the Codes please click on the following link:
http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/637.asp

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