New planning reforms to increase housing flexibility in WA

THE West Australian Government this week announced significant planning reforms through amended residential design codes that aim to streamline planning and improve flexibility for homeowners and businesses.

The amendments to the residential design codes, known as R-Codes, will allow homeowners to rent out backyard  'granny flats' or 'Fonzie flats', built above garages, fulfilling a commitment made at the state election earlier this year.

"One of the major changes is the removal of the requirement for the occupants of 'granny flats' to be a relative of the main householder and an increase in the floor space allowed for such developments.  This will provide greater housing choice for people," Planning Minister John Day said.

"The residential design codes provide the basis for residential development control throughout Western Australia. The changes are part of the Government's continuing work to reform and streamline the planning system."

Mr Day said the reforms followed a comprehensive review and public consultation, which focused on providing more flexibility on housing choices; a streamlined residential approval process with a consistent approach to assessment of applications; and maintaining the quality of residential design.

Housing Minister Bill Marmion said the reforms were a great example of government working together to achieve a positive outcome.

"We have a target of 20,000 new affordable homes by 2020. Already more than 7,000 affordable homes have been provided since 2010 and this initiative will make it very likely that we will exceed this target," Mr Marmion said.

According to the government, other changes to the R-Codes include:

  • Lowering of the lot size which requires planning approval for single houses;
  • Greater emphasis on the use and format of local development plans (formerly known as detailed area plans) and local planning policies;
  • Amendments to provisions relating to overshadowing, privacy and parking requirements; and
  • Changes to terminology and clarification on how to use the provisions.

The new R-Codes will take effect on 2 August 2013. More information is available from the PlanningWA website at <http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/rcodes>.

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