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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Town Planning Application?

A Town Planning Application is also commonly referred to as a Development Application (DA).  It is an application lodged to obtain Town Planning approval from the applicable Local Government.  Essentially the Local Government’s Town Planning service assess the application against relevant Town Planning provisions and makes a determination whether to grant an approval or not.  An overview of all variations sought against Town Planning provisions such as the Scheme, Local and State Town Planning Policies should be provided so as to seek the Local Government’s discretion.

Why is a Town Planning Application Required?

An application for Town Planning approval is required when a proposed development is not deemed-to-comply or is not exempt from requiring Town Planning approval.  An application is assessed based on its merits in conjunction with applicable Town Planning provisions.  A Town Planning application provides the Local Government with an opportunity to consider the potential impact a proposed development may have upon existing surrounding development, or anticipated future development.

What is a Retrospective Town Planning Application?

Where a development has commenced prior to obtaining Town Planning approval a retrospective application is required.  The development is considered to be unauthorised.  A retrospective application incurs an additional fee by way of penalty, generally three times the initial fee.

What documents are required by Council to assess an Application for Planning Approval?

An application for Town Planning approval is accompanied by but not limited to the following:

  • Form of application for Town Planning approval, signed by landowner/s
  • Three copies of proposed site, floor and elevation plans
  • Letter of justification providing an overview of the proposed development and addressing variations sought against relevant Town Planning provisions
  • Associated Town Planning application fee as per Schedule of Fees for the relevant Local Government authority
  • Where applicable a development checklist for the relevant Local Government
  • Possible additional supporting documentation upon the request of delegated Town Planning Officer

What are the current turnaround times for Planning Approvals?

The Town Planning and Development Act (2005) specify Local Government determine an application within 60 days, or 90 days where advertising is required.  Noting all relevant information and applicable fees are to be provided prior to commencement of this time frame.  Where Local Government determines additional information is required the timeframe may be paused.  Where sufficient information is not provided within a specified time frame an application may be refused.

What is the difference between Town Planning Approval (Development Application) and Building Permit?

An application for Building Approval is assessed against Building legislation such as but not limited to the National Construction Code (NCC), Building Codes of Australia (BCA) and Australian Standards.  Where found to be compliant a Building Certifier may issue the proposed development with a Certificate of Design Compliance (CDC).  Building Approval is generally relative to the structural aspect or construction of a development.

An application for Town Planning approval is assessed against Town Planning legislation such as but not limited to State Planning Policies (i.e. SPP 3.1 – Residential Design Codes), in addition to the Local Government Town Planning Scheme and Policies.  Town Planning approval is generally relative to amenity, building design, context, streetscape, and the potential impact of a development.

It should be confirmed whether an application for Town Planning Approval and/or Building Approval is required PRIOR to commencement of ANY building or development.

What is Residential Density or an R-Code

Each Local Government has a Town Planning Scheme and associated Scheme Maps.  Under the Scheme Maps land pertaining to residential development has an associated residential density code referred to as an R-Code.  An R-Code relates to the density of land, specifying the number of dwellings permissible per hectare i.e. R5 = 5 dwellings per hectare, R20 = 20 dwellings per hectare.  As a general rule the higher the R-Code, the higher the density.

All residential development is to occur in accordance with the applicable R-Code and associated requirements for that R-Code as outlined under the Residential Design Codes (RCodes).

What are the Residential Design Codes or R-Codes of Western Australia

The R-Codes, State Planning Policy 3.1 (SPP3.1), form the basis of compliance for all residential development within Western Australia.  The R-Codes are published by State Government the Department of Planning, under section 26 of the Planning and Development Act 2005.  Clause 1.2 under SPP3.1 outlines the purpose of the R-Codes is “to provide a comprehensive basis for the control of residential development throughout Western Australia”.  Residential development is designed and subsequently assessed against the criteria of the R-Codes for the applicable density code or R-Code over a site.

A copy of the R-Codes is available for viewing via the Department of Planning website  (click here)

Or can be downloaded directly (click here)

How can I find the R-Code of a property

Local Government Town Planning Schemes and associated Scheme Maps are available via the Department of Planning website.  Town Planning Scheme Maps identify along with the zoning of land any applicable R-Code.

The Local Government Town Planning Schemes are a statutory planning document and can be viewed via the Department of Planning website (Click here)

The Local Government may also advise the applicable R-Code of a property over the phone, should you wish to contact them directly.

What is a Town Planning Scheme

A Local Government Town Planning Scheme (TPS) is established in accordance with legislative provisions under the Town Planning and Development Act (2005).  A Town Planning Scheme is a statutory planning document, which regulates the use of land within an applicable Local Government area.  Land uses, zonings and special control areas are identified under a Scheme, in conjunction with Scheme Maps the land uses appropriate for various zonings are identified and controlled.  A number denotes a Town Planning Scheme i.e. Town Planning Scheme No. 3, which identifies the number of Scheme’s a Local Government area has had.

What is a Local Planning Strategy?

Collated in accordance with the Town Planning and Development Act (2005), a Local Planning Strategy (LPS) is a strategic planning document providing guidance for the future development of a substantially investigated area.  A Local Planning Strategy plans for the growth of a Local Government area with regard to infrastructure, housing, sustainability, transport and so on.

Note there is also a State Planning Strategy, which guides decisions regarding strategic planning and development within Western Australia.  The current State Planning Strategy caters for growth toward the year of 2050.

What is the difference between the Town Planning Act and the Town Planning Regulations?

The Town Planning and Development Act (2005) forms the legislative basis for Town Planning and Development within Western Australia.  The Town Planning (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations (2015) provide an element of consistency between Local Government areas.  However each Local Government area is likely to have additional provisions such as but not limited to Structure Plans, Strategies and Policies in place.

How do I lodge an Application to Subdivide?

An application for Subdivision (Strata and Freehold) or Amalgamation is lodged directly with the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC).  The applicable forms and fees to apply for subdivision or amalgamation are available directly from the WAPC website (click here)

Applications may be lodged via the WAPC online (click here)

The WAPC has produced a helpful flowchart providing an overview of the subdivision and amalgamation process (click here)

What is the difference between a Grouped Dwelling and a Multiple Dwelling?

A Grouped Dwelling exists where there is more than one dwelling, not vertically above one another, on a site including survey strata sites with areas pertaining to common property.

A Multiple Dwelling exists where there is more than one dwelling and the dwellings are vertically above one another.