Stage one of Design WA to guide infill and apartment developments

Stock image.
Stock image.

MINIMUM apartment sizes, increased tree retention and natural light requirements form part of new guidelines for future infill and apartment developments.

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti today released the first stage of Design WA for developers and local governments to follow to ensure new community developments are built to higher design standards.

These 10 principles for good design aim to address developments that have previously resulted in poor outcomes for streetscapes, cramped interiors and a lack of green space.

“Design WA addresses community concerns around higher density developments and infill throughout Perth,” Ms Saffioti said.

“By raising the bar for the quality of developments around Perth, I believe we will see a wider acceptance of apartment living and infill developments which improve neighbourhoods when done well.”

Design WA objectives include having an appropriate scale to respect the local character and context, minimum apartment sizes based on floor space and the number of rooms, safe, healthy environments with good natural light and ventilation, development that creates walkable neighbourhoods with high amenity, green space such as shady trees for outdoor spaces and mature tree retention, and development that enhances local neighbourhoods.

“This policy is about learning from some of the mistakes from the past and moving forward to create more sustainable, vibrant, attractive and healthy neighbourhoods – a key component of METRONET,” Ms Saffioti said.

“In conjunction with METRONET, Design WA provides the platform to accommodate a growing population, close to new and existing public transport infrastructure and good design will be central to meeting community needs and expectations now and into the future.

“This addresses many of the issues that concern communities including walkable neighbourhoods, retaining street trees, providing green open spaces, ensuring new apartment blocks fit in with their surroundings, parking and privacy concerns.

“Importantly, Design WA provides reassurance that any future development has undergone rigorous scrutiny to ensure the best possible outcomes.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister for Planning John Carey said Design WA would “set new benchmarks across local government”.

“While some local governments have led the way with their excellent apartment design rules, others have had significant gaps in their local planning policies, and as a result, some local governments have delivered poor apartment building outcomes in their communities,” he said.

“Design WA resolves this challenge by ensuring consistent design benchmarks for developments in all local governments.

“This is welcome news also for developers by ensuring a more consistent approach across the sector.”

Stage one of Design WA focuses on design for the built environment (State Planning Policy 7.0), new residential design codes for apartments, and a design review guide.

The policies will come into effect on May 24, 2019.

Stages two and three of Design WA will focus on precinct planning and medium density development respectively.


Urban Development Institute of Australia welcomes Design WA but raises some concerns

THE Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA WA) has welcomed today’s release of the first stage of Design WA.

“UDIA WA supports good design outcomes to ensure quality of living standards for residents in WA and we welcome Design WA as a concept that will lift the standard of built form across the board,” chief executive Tanya Steinbeck said.

“There are many developers in WA who are already raising the bar for design and liveability in new apartment projects, however there are a small number of projects that don’t meet the high standards the rest of the industry is setting.

“Therefore it is beneficial to have a consistent standard and expectation across the board.”

However, Ms Steinbeck said Perth “really needs the subsequent stages (of Design WA) released as soon as possible”.

“Particularly the medium density code, as we see this is where some of the poorer outcomes are emerging, particularly in infill areas,” she said.

Ms Steinbeck said while the 10 guiding principles of stage one addressed important aspects of “ensuring quality places to live for future generations”, maintaining affordability was also important.

“We note that affordability is not addressed by any of the 10 principles and that is concerning given there are a raft of requirements in the Apartment Design Guide that are going to add additional costs to apartments,” she said.

“We need to make sure that we are keeping in mind the NSW experience, where research has shown when a similar policy was introduced, it added an average of $150,000 to the cost of an apartment.
“That is just not fair or viable for many new home buyers.”

Ms Steinbeck also raised concerns of the interpretation of the guidelines by local governments.
“There is already a lack of consistency across local governments when it comes to development approvals and dealing with development projects,” she said.

“We want to see appropriate support and training provided to local government officers who are going to be interpreting these new guidelines.

“There is capacity for local governments to amend various and very significant parts of the policy document via their local planning policies and we don’t want to see inconsistency reign.

“Where the guidelines might result in design element objectives that conflict, we need a pragmatic approach by decision-makers with a vision for the broader outcomes of a project.

“We can’t have a one-size-fits-all decision-making process that does not allow for innovative design outcomes and the testing of new ideas.

“A diversity of housing choices in every suburb must be a priority for Perth as we grow to a city of 3.5 million people and see a further rise of infill development in the coming years.”

Ms Steinbeck said it was “critical” to “bring the people of Perth along with us as the city grows”.

“Communities need to see and understand the benefits that quality infill development can bring to an area including increased services and amenities, increased vibrancy, infrastructure upgrades and better transport connectivity,” she said.

“Community engagement and education, in conjunction with forward planning and clear policy guidelines and decision-making processes will help Perth to evolve into a more vibrant, liveable city that attracts people to want to live here.”