Taylor Burrell Barnett

TBB Reacts – Public Open Space in Residential Areas


Trent Will

09 Jun 2023

Earlier today, the Western Australian Planning Commission released a draft Operational Policy 2.3 – Public Open Space in Residential Areas, which is intended to replace the current Development Control 2.3. This proposes a number of changes to public open space (POS) contributions which developers should be aware of.

TBB Senior Associate Trent Will, shares our initial views on the draft Operational Policy 2.3 – Public Open Space in Residential Areas.

*Update*  We welcome the latest news from the Planning Minister John Carey for an interim approach in respect of built strata and confirmation that the Government will not support any changes to POS contributions which may prevent much needed apartment developments in the current housing market.

The integration of open space in residential areas offers a number of advantages to communities including social and recreation opportunities and health benefits. Following a recommendation in the Stephenson Hepburn plan, new housing estates in Western Australia have been required to set aside 10% of land as public open space since the late 1950s. This longstanding approach has delivered high quality housing estates in Western Australia where the majority of metropolitan residents live within walking distance of a park.

The draft Operational Policy seeks to apply public open space contributions to not only greenfield subdivisions, but also built strata subdivision including apartment and infill development. Until recently, built strata subdivisions have not been subject to public open space contributions. In recent times, some developments have been subject to 10% contributions, though the requirement has not been consistently applied and is often only applied at the strata titling stage (when the development is nearing completion).

Under the draft Operational Policy apartment developments REQUIRE a contribution of between 5% and 10% of the land area depending on various circumstances (or pay a cash contribution equivalent to the land value). This contribution requirement raises concerns for infill development.

The benefits of urban infill development are well publicised and include environmental benefits, housing diversity,  consumer choice and efficient use of infrastructure. Perth is in a situation where infill development rates are presently low and the State Infrastructure Strategy advocates for removing barriers and incentivising infill development. These contributions represent a further cost to infill development, adding to public art contributions, streetscape upgrade requirements, community infrastructure contributions and various other contributions and taxes. This is exacerbated in a time when construction prices are high. A further contribution is likely to impact viability of infill development and potentially housing affordability for the end user.

Further assessment and consideration of the draft policy will be required to understand impacts more fully.

If you would like to discuss this topic, please feel free to contact any of the team members below directly for a chat.

Jarrod Ross

Trent Will

Submissions on the policy are open until 25 August 2023.

Related Links

View the DC2.3 Draft here


Trent Will