Trent Fleskens, Managing Director of Strategic Property Group and host of popular podcast the Perth Property Show on which I’ve been a guest recently, wrote this week about changes to the residential design codes approved back in October 2017, amongst which included removing the average lot size requirement in the R-codes for corner lots and lots with two street frontages (ie lots with streets at the front and rear), opening up the possibility of subdivision for properties that homeowners might have believed were too small.

Here’s what Trent had to say:

Western Australia’s residential design codes or R-codes, are complicated for the average property owner and while they might initially appear cut and dried, there are Western Australian Planning Commission allowances which can apply to average lot sizes, corner blocks, single bed dwellings and tiny lots which could have a significant positive effect on a development and the value of your property.

So what aspects of the R-codes should homeowners be aware of and how might they be leveraged for development opportunity or as a buying or selling strategy?

Here are some areas to consider:

Corner Lots: 

WAPC’s Development Control Policy 2.2 was approved in October 2017, allowing a vast number of corner lots in Perth  to now be split into two. Corner lots and lots with street frontages to both front and rear boundaries (zoned R10 to R30) were the big winners. Despite some of the publicity around the changes at the time, many corner lot homeowners aren’t aware that they could be sitting on a development bonanza.

In areas not typically zoned for subdivision, this policy means that it is now highly likely that your corner lot now has potential to be split in half, meaning your property should now be worth much more than your neighbour, who still can’t subdivide.

The policy determines that if your block has frontage to two streets (a corner), you can now subdivide to the minimum area requirements rather than the average. Hence, an R20 block not on a corner still needs to be 900 square metres to be split in two.

However, corner blocks as small as 700 square metres can now be split in two. Or if you own a 1,000 square metre corner lot in an area zoned R17.5, you can now subdivide that into two 500 square metre lots, whereas previously you couldn’t due to the 571 square metre site average criteria.

Tiny Houses:

The Western Australian government has published the final version of its policy on the construction of houses on small lots. The position statement provides interim guidance on the construction of houses on lots smaller than 100 square metres, and an implementation mechanism to ensure a consistent application across Western Australia, which includes recommendations on setbacks, open spaces, reduced parking requirements, and altered privacy positions.

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If you own property on a street corner or block end and you are within 150 metre of a park, 200-400 metre of a local suburban hub, or 400-800 metre of an activity centre, you can apply to create a development like the new Ellenbrook style terrace ‘tiny lots’.

Single Bed Dwellings:

In addition to the normal WAPC R-codes, a further bonus can be sought from a developer if they are creating lots for Over-55 residents or for single-bed dwellings.

Essentially, in exchange for placing a caveat on the title of the lot that the dwelling built may only be a single bed dwelling or may only be occupied by someone over 55 years of age the WAPC will grant a 33% lot size variation to the lot in question.

For example, if a development was being established on an R25 site, the usual minimum lot size would be 300 square metre per lot. However, if the developer meets the above criteria, that lot size may be as small as 200 square metre. Hence, on an 800 square metre corner lot zoned R25, it’s easy to see how the corner lot bonus and the single bed dwelling allowance could result in two 300 square metre lots and a 200sqm single bed dwelling lot.

Spot Rezoning:

Even if your house isn’t zoned for subdivision, you may still be able to apply to the council for a spot rezoning.  While this can be difficult to get through many councils if you take the time to do your research and make a good case for your application, you may be successful.

And back to me!

If you’re curious about the zoning of your property contact your local council or please give me a call, and if you’d like to learn more about subdivisions and developing in general, Trent’s your man! He runs popular Property Development Masterclasses, the next one of which is scheduled for 29 July 2019. Find all the details here.