Development Assessment Panel ChangesIntroducing SPP 7 - Design of the Built Environment

DesignWA - Proposed Changes to Multi-unit Housing Code: Introducing SPP 7 - Design of the Built Environment

The Department of Planning yesterday released a draft suite of documents aimed at elevating the role of design in delivering quality developments, in particular, multiple dwellings and mixed use developments. The collection of draft documents includes SPP 7 — design of the built environment. As part of Design WA, this draft policy will replace part 6 of the Residential Design Codes WA (R-Codes) which specifically relates to multiple dwelling developments.

Hemsley Planning has undertaken a cursory analysis of some of the proposed changes with a focus on the introduction and modification of primary controls impacting site planning and design.

Comments on the draft Design WA set of policies can be made via 


Submissions close 5pm, Tuesday 20 December 2016.


Creation of Two Overarching R-Code Categories for R40+

  • Detached Streetscape Pattern
  • Attached Streetscape Pattern
  • Detached Streetscape Pattern 'Designed to emphasise landscaping between buildings and have a more informal relationship with the street alignment. Side setbacks are consistently enforced, to create frequent building breaks along the street. Privacy and overshadowing need to be carefully managed to avoid impact on adjacent properties.' (Refer Part 2.3)
  • Attached Streetscape Pattern 'Designed to create a distinct ‘street-wall’ of contiguous building frontages. Side walls are built directly to the lot boundary and windows are oriented to face the street or to the rear, which helps to avoid overlooking adjacent properties. Allowing boundary wall development to the sides is offset by larger rear setbacks, assisting retention of existing vegetation. Although it offers some benefits, the attached development approach has direct impact on neighbouring sites, so it should be only applied through precinct planning, and not adopted by a single development site without coordination with neighbouring properties.' (Refer Part 2.3)
  • Local governments are encouraged to set sites specific primary controls in areas zoned for apartments to improve design outcomes and certainty for proponents and neighbours. This can form part of a scheme amendment. (Refer Part 2.2)

We understand there will be a requirement for Scheme amendments or the introduction of other local planning framework required to introduce or identify attached streetscape pattern designated areas. We have identified this as a possible barrier to implementation.

Hemsley Planning highly encourages the Department of Planning to introduce standardised template with which Local Governments must use to publish and assist with developing site-specific planning controls.

Part 2.2 is suggesting the introduction of Local Development Plans (LDP) to implement detailed controls. We support this and would recommend encouraging private landowners to pursue implementing LDP's themselves.

Setbacks & Building Separation
  • 4m front street setbacks required for all R40+ (R16) lots in the detached streetscape pattern areas.
  • Introduction of rear setbacks which default to 6m in all detached streetscape pattern areas.
  • On boundary wall height in detached streetscape settings is limited to a single storey.
  • Introduction of building separation requirements variable to height and use of rooms between adjoining building requiring separating. Required separation ranges from 6m to 25m.
  • Greater setbacks required with side setbacks are minimum of 3m.
Response It appears that these controls are designed to incentivise developers amalgamating sites. Due to the costly and difficult nature of amalgamating sites, we believe there should be greater incentive provided for those securing the amalgamation of sites.

Introduction of Incentive-Based Development Standards

  • Introduction of defined plot ratio bonuses ranging from to 22.5% to 50% depending on underlying R-Code density.
  • Introduction of defined building height bonuses.


We support the clarity and consistency that this will achieve in preparing advice and preparing development applications.
  • Building and wall height control is tied to storeys not measurement in metres
  • Building height bonuses are available to R60+ zoned sites
  • Three storeys permitted in lieu of effectively two for R40

The primary controls are focusing on achieving greater open space through increased setbacks, allowing increased height as a tradeoff, provided a range of other requirements are met is a natural response to assist in maintaining yield which we support.

We believe a focus on storeys over metres as a building height controls will result in more liveable spaces with improved internal ceiling heights.

Plot Ratio
  • R100 increases DTC plot ratio from 1.25 to 1.30.
  • Guidance Note: 'Building envelopes should be at least 25% greater than the allowable plot ratio area  to allow for voids and building components that do not count as plot ratio area but contribute to building design and articulation such as balconies, lifts, stairs and open circulation space.' (Refer Part 2.5)

We support the improved clarity and the effective incorporation of the 'explanatory guidelines' into the relevant sections of the draft policy.

Introduction of Building Depth Control
  • Introduction of building depth as a control being set at 18m. 
Response We feel it should be a requirement relative to the depth of a lot. Not applicable to parking areas and lower podium levels. The misinterpretation of this provision may restrict creative and 'out of the box' design solutions which can reduce the bulk and appearance through alternative means. Other proposed controls suitably ensure high-quality living spaces without the requirement to restrict building depth.
Balcony & Storeroom Dimensions
  • Balcony and storeroom dimensions increase or decrease from standard 10m 2x 2.4m (4m for stores) dependent on bedrooms. (Refer table 4.5.1)

We believe this is a logical change and are supportive of this.





Tags: State Planning Policy, SPP, DesignWA

Project Experience

An individually-tailored planning consulting service driven by a focus on project outcomes and functionally creative solutions.

How Can We Help?

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 



Alex Hemsley | Director & Principal Planner

0415 337 100