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The importance of good design in Western Australian Planning has been elevated with the introduction of Design WA, a comprehensive policy suite aimed at improving the quality of developments and the neighbourhoods they reside in.

Design WA will ensure good design outcomes for all developments and create a more consistent development process through its policy framework. This framework is based on the three key fundamentals of applying universal design principles, integrating expert design review and the use of skilled designers, all working cohesively to improve built form design outcomes.

These three fundamentals are embedded into the Stage One document suite which currently includes the Draft State Planning Policy for Design of the Built Environment (SPP7), Draft Apartment Design Policy, Draft Design Review Guide and Draft Design Skills Discussion Paper. Future document releases will focus on neighbourhood, precinct and house design policies and guides.

Design WA should benefit developers by providing greater certainty regarding design quality expectations across the State and consistency through an integrated design review process. It should also benefit local authorities by alleviating the need to prepare local planning policies and design guidelines where universal design detail is within the Design WA suite. Where complex development scenarios are proposed, Design WA provides guidance on the operation and execution of design review panels to achieve consistent, transparent and focussed design outcomes and timeframes.

As a key component of the Design WA suite, the draft Apartment Design Policy provides controls and guidance for apartments and mixed-use developments replacing and improving the guidance currently located in Part 6 of the Residential Design Codes. This policy has been developed to encourage good quality and liveable apartments which respond to their site considerations and local context. Importantly, the policy has more flexibility than the preceding R-Codes with a performance based focus and has been formulated specifically for apartment development. It offers clear objectives and guidance to design practitioners and decision makers who propose alternative and innovative design solutions. Whilst the document contains a default set of Primary Building controls which define the outer three dimensional development envelope, building massing and arrangement, there is guidance for Local Governments to make appropriate modifications to these controls to suit local contexts.

The Design WA public consultation period closes on Tuesday December 20. If you would like more information or copies of the Design WA Suite, these are available from Taylor Burrell Barnett or directly at www.planning.wa.gov.au/DesignWA

Taylor Burrell Barnett have thoroughly reviewed the policy suite and have focussed their professional comments and submission on the design controls contributing to the quality of the public domain interface, streetscape experience and ground plane private open space configurations.

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