Support quality housing, tree canopy retention and better design guidelines in WA

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VIDEO; A Tale of Developers

The story of how WA's residential design guidelines are preventing good urban infill developments and why Design WA's proposed guidelines are our best hope for better housing.

Perth's housing is facing major challenges. As Perth’s population expands there is increasing pressure on Local Governments to meet density targets. The State is struggling with the extensive loss of existing tree canopy brought about by inadequate design guidelines and a lack of design expertise at Local and State Government levels. Mistrust in the planning system is rife, further exacerbating the difficulties of increasing density in the suburbs as residents rally against poorly designed housing and unsustainable developments. The Residential Design Codes (R-Codes) are inadequate to protect the community from poor quality housing and are too inflexible to allow innovation. As a result, WA’s best practice infill housing projects are being stifled, and worst-practice housing is the norm.

The previous Government developed the ‘Design WA’ guidelines which were intended to replace the outdated R-Codes. Design WA was drafted over a 3 year period in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and disciplines including developers, planners, architects, landscape architects and local government in an open and transparent format. There has already been significant investment made in the development of the Design WA suite of policies, and if those policies are delayed or modified, there are concerns that the taxpayer investment in planning reform to date will have been misused. 

There is a concerning lack of transparency in regard to the engagement of the Minister’s “Independent Planning Reform Team” and the authoring of the new Green Paper after the change in government. WA’s Built Environment disciplines were not consulted by the “Independent Planning Reform Team” during the drafting of the Green Paper, and there are concerns that this team is not undertaking the necessary due diligence to ensure best-practice housing outcomes for Perth’s residents. The timing of the release of the Green Paper is concerning as its preliminary status, limited drafting period and release for initial comment has taken priority over the implementation of Design WA, which Local Government are prepared for and ready to adopt.

We, the signatories request the following actions from the Planning Minister;

1. Implement the now-overdue Design WA’s ‘SPP 7 Apartment Design Guide’ in its original format as intended by Design WA
2. Release the agenda and terms for review of the ‘Independent Planning Reform Team' and their report; ‘Modernizing WA's Planning System: Green Paper’
3. Re-engage the built environment disciplines at strategic planning level to ensure best-practice housing outcomes are delivered to WA's residents. 

We ask the Minister to respond to our open letter and we thank her for her time.


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