Property Council calls for R-Code refocus

In a recent submission to DPLH, Property Council WA welcomed quick win changes proposed by the Interim R-Codes Review, but raised concerns about more complex changes that places the economic benefits from residential stimulus incentives at risk.

The Interim Review was fast-tracked by the State Government as part of its COVID-19 Planning Reform program of work. Released in July, the Interim Review proposed a range of changes that were intended to aid economic recovery from COVID-19, although feedback from Property Council members indicated this was a double-edged sword.

In close consultation with Property Council WA’s Planning and Residential Committees, the submission supported a relaxation of planning and design requirements for certain types of work. This included reduced requirements for patios, pergolas, swimming pools, ancillary buildings, front and boundary fences. Other positive changes included reductions to side setbacks and a simplification to overshadowing calculations to standardise methods across local governments and balance the requirements of complementary changes.

The submission highlighted significant changes that, although were not opposed outright in many cases, would require substantial changes to planning, design and building practices across the Perth and Peel regions. Notably, some of these changes would hinder efforts to recover from COVID-19 by changing the goal posts for house and land development if the changes take effect from late 2020 as intended. To avoid those impacts, Property Council WA’s submission recommended the changes in question either be deferred or introduced with a transitional arrangement that would allow industry and the community enough time to adjust.

More serious changes, including a blanket 32sqm Outdoor Living Area requirement for all houses irrespective of R-Code zone, were flagged as being unworkable from a planning and design point of view, as well as having negative consequences for project viability and housing affordability.

Similar concerns were raised around changes that would restrict new homes to having only single car garages, which industry says does not reflect longstanding market trends for new houses and would require changes to lot width and depth, when combined with other proposed requirements.

The submission can be downloaded below.