Introduction of Design WA and the apartment codes
On 24 May 2019, the State Government introduced the ‘Design WA’ initiative aimed at ensuring good design is at the centre of all development in Western Australia.
The City encourages residents and ratepayers to have a say in the planning proposals that shape your neighbourhood and our City. This document provides an overview of the ‘Design WA’ initiative, and can be used by residents and ratepayers to comment on planning proposals for multiple dwellings (Apartments).
As part of this initiative, the following documents have come into effect:
- State Planning Policy 7.0: Design of the Built Environment
- State Planning Policy 7.3: Residential Design Codes Volume 2 – Apartments – the ‘Apartment Codes’ replace Part 6 of the existing Residential Design Codes (R-Codes)
- Design Review Guide.
These documents can be viewed on the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage website.
In combination, these documents aim to improve the design outcomes of all forms of development by introducing 10 principles for good design against which development is to be assessed. These ‘Design Principles’ are:
1. Context and Character 6. Amenity
2. Landscape Quality 7. Legibility
3. Built Form and Scale 8. Safety
4. Functionality and Build Quality 9. Community
5. Sustainability 10. Aesthetics
Design WA emphasises the importance of incorporating good design at an early stage in the development process and requires, in certain circumstances, that a ‘design statement’ be submitted. This principle is reflected in the Design Review Guide, which recommends the use of ‘Design Review Panels’, whose role is to provide independent, expert design advice on development proposals.
The introduction of Design WA fundamentally changes the way development applications that proposed ‘Apartments’ are assessed and advertised. The introduction of Design WA also means that some of the City’s planning requirements contained in Local Planning Policies and Local Development Plans have been over written by State Planning Policy 7.3: Residential Design Codes Volume 2 - Apartments.
To help residents and ratepayers understand the changes, and which requirements will be applied, we have prepared the following documents to make clear what requirements apply when designing an apartment development.
Will the City advertise applications for 'Apartment' developments?
The City encourages residents and ratepayers to have a say in the planning proposals that shape your neighbourhood and our City.
Because the way that Apartments developments are to be assessed has changed, the City will advertise all of these applications. Previously the City only advertised a development application if a ‘performance based’ assessment was needed, which, in the opinion of the City, may have had an impact on the amenity of an adjoining property owner/s.
To help you understand the process of consultation, the City has prepared an information sheet titled ‘Consultation on Planning Proposals’. This document can be viewed on the City’s website and provides guidance for making a submission to a planning proposal.
We have also prepared the following document to help residents and ratepayers make comments to proposed Apartment development application.
The Apartment Codes contains more than 30 design elements, and each of these design elements has their own ‘intent’ and ‘element objective’ against which Apartment developments will be assessed. To assist you in writing your submission and ensuring your submission addresses the ‘element objectives’, all 30 design elements with the associated objectives are listed on the following document.
This will help you understand the factors against which a decision maker, being either the City of Stirling, the Western Australian Planning Commission, the Metro North-West Joint Development Assessment Panel, or the State Administrative Tribunal, will assess a development application for Apartments.
Apartment codes consultation form
What are the changes to how the City assess 'Apartment' developments?
Before the Apartment Codes came into effect, there were two avenues by which Apartments were assessed, the first being a ‘deemed-to-comply’ pathway (which means that if you met these deemed-to-comply requirements, your application ought to be approved because the R-Codes states that ‘the decision-maker shall not refuse to grant approval to an application where the application satisfies the deemed-to-comply provisions of the R-Codes’. The second pathway was that the City, through the assessment process, could undertake a ‘design principle’ assessment (which means that an applicant had to be able to demonstrate why their design was acceptable).
The previous approach to Apartment developments meant that the R-Codes did not always deliver good design outcomes.
The new approach is a primarily a ‘performance based’ approach, where applications for Apartment developments need to demonstrate that the design of the development meets the objectives of the each of the design elements of the Apartment Codes.
To assist applicants with their design, the Apartment Codes lists ‘Acceptable Outcomes’ which, if met, may mean that a design meets the objectives of the Apartment Codes. However, these are not a ‘deemed-to-comply’ pathway and the development proposals will be assessed in context of the entire Apartment building design to ensure the objectives of each of the design elements are achieved.
What is the role of the Design Review Panel in the assessment process?
Council introduced the City of Stirling Design Review Panel on 24 January 2019 before Design WA came into effect on 24 May 2019. The following types of development application may be referred to the Design Review Panel:
- Development Applications valued at $2 million (with some exceptions):
- Multiple Dwelling applications equal to or greater than 10 dwellings,
- Preliminary development proposals located within the City, where referred by the Manager Development Services.
The referral of development applications to the Design Review Panel, including requests for Pre Development Application advice, is at the discretion of the Manager Development Services. More information on how the Design Review Panel operates can be obtained by contacting the City’s Senior Development Engagement Officer on (08) 9205 8555.