R-code changes to hit developers

Tuesday, 4th Aug 2015
Categories: Market News, Newsletter

R-code changesChanges to Western Australia’s residential planning codes (R-codes), which were unveiled last month, will significantly reduce the development potential of thousands of properties across Perth.

The amendments to the R-codes system have been in the pipeline for close to a year after the Western Australian Planning Commission recommended changes to the scheme, which determines how many dwellings can be developed on a single property.

The changes are aimed at properties zoned R30 and R35 and will reduce the number of dwellings that can be built.

Under the new regulations, properties zoned R30 can build one dwelling per 300 square metres and those zoned R35 can build one dwelling per 260sqm.

This significantly reduces the number of dwellings a developer can build on their property. For example, a landowner with a 1000sqm block zoned R30 can only build three units under the new guidelines. However, under the existing scheme the landowner could have built up to eight units.

Car parking requirements will also be increased to guarantee each apartment has at least one car bay.

The changes, which take effect from October 23, have been largely driven by a number of local councils who have openly opposed higher-density living within their boundaries.

In addition, the Western Australian Planning Commission has also released guidelines saying it will support the effective prohibition on apartments in R40 areas unless they are within certain distances of train stations and activity centres. A number of local councils are expected to move quickly to implement this change.

The new regulations are likely to lead to further urban sprawl, as housing choice in Perth’s inner metropolitan area is restricted and residents are forced to live in more affordable areas on the urban fringe.

This will create more pressure on Perth’s infrastructure, such as roads, public transport and utilities.

The changes also fly in the face of the state government’s goal to increase urban infill. The current infill rate stands at just 28% and the revised R-codes will only hinder the WA government’s ambitions to increase the infill rate to 47% of new housing developments.

We would hope to see the Western Australian Planning Commission and state government take charge and require local councils to increase density around activity centres. Otherwise there is little chance of the infill goals being reached.