On 2nd July 2021 the latest series of amendments to R-Codes came into effect

On 2nd July 2021 the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (“DPLH”)’s latest series of amendments to R-Codes came into effect. This follows the introduction of Volume 2 – Apartments in 2019. Alongside the upcoming Medium Density Codes expected in 2022, this latest amendment is a part of the broader planning reform initiatives, of which Phase 2 is currently under review

What’s to know

The R-Codes control planning and design for most residential development, covering single houses, grouped dwellings and apartments. The amendments were made to State Planning Policy 7.3 Residential Design Codes Volume 1. They were gazetted and became operational on Friday 2nd July 2021.

The DPLH have extensive resources on their website explaining the R-Codes so we’ll just focus on what the latest amendments cover:

Deemed-to-comply provisions

Simpler deemed-to-comply provisions should help landowners and developers determine if they require a development application. The more generous deemed-to-comply provisions should result in fewer proposals for small-scale development like patios, retaining and boundary walls, and outbuildings. Single houses on lots under 260m2 will now only require development applications if the proposal does not meet the provisions or if required under a local planning scheme.

The amendments also  revised the deemed-to-comply provisions to align with modern home design and buyers preferred location of the garage.

A focus on outdoor lifestyle

The amendments include several provisions aimed at improving the quality of outdoor living space. These include tree planting for all dwellings plus a consolidated outdoor living area.

Keeping it simple

In line with the planning reforms commitment to make planning easy to understand, unnecessary words have been removed, tables have been simplified and figures offer improved readability.

TBB Reacts

Amendments to Volume 1 of the R-Codes have been made with the right intent considering the broader themes of planning reform. Simplification of the R-Codes, making it easier for homeowners to improve their properties with patios and sheds is achieved by more generous deemed-to-comply provisions. It is also a welcome change that single houses on lots smaller than 260m2 will only require development approval where they don’t meet requirements of the planning framework, particularly as lots of this size and smaller are making up a greater proportion of infill and greenfield development across the market.

The change in approach to outdoor living areas including the requirement for a designated tree planting area and connectivity between the outdoor living space and the newly defined primary living space will help owners do their part towards greener suburbs – a journey many local governments are also on in the public realm.

The R-Code amendments are just one phase of planning reform in relation to dwelling design. But with single houses still a highly favoured choice in the WA market, it’s important to see the DPLH progressing policy on all fronts.