Q. WHAT IS AN R-CODE?

R-Code refers to a residential design code allocated to your property. It is used to control matters such as open space, development setbacks and for those seeking to subdivide and/or re-develop, it controls the minimum and average lot size requirements. There are many different R-Codes ranging from R2 to R160.

Q. WHERE CAN I FIND THE ALLOCATED R-CODE FOR A PROPERTY?

The Local Government’s Local Planning Scheme Maps outlines the particular R-Code for all residential zoned land. The gazetted maps can be found on the WA Planning Commission’s website however the most user friendly way is via the Local Governments website using an online mapping (intramaps – link here https://www.mapsolutions.com.au/intramaps/intramaps-public.aspx) interactive program where you can simply type in the address of the property in question.

Q. WHAT DOES R20 & R40 MEAN?

The ‘R’ stands for Residential. The ‘20’ originally derives from a Local Governments desire to have a maximum of 20 dwellings / lots for a hectare of land (10,000m2). Similarly ‘40’ results from a Local Government allowing a maximum of 40 dwellings / lots per hectare of land.

Q. WHAT IS THE AVERAGE LOT SIZE REQUIREMENT FOR SAY R20 & R40 CODED LAND?

R20 – Historically the average lot size was 500m2 which was based on the maximum number of dwellings / lots per hectare i.e. 10,000m2 / 20. Due to the State Governments desire for more infill the average lot size for R20 has reduced to 450m2.

R40 –  Historically the average lot size was 250m2 which was based on the maximum number of dwellings / lots per hectare i.e. 10,000m2 / 40. Due to the State Governments desire for more infill the average lot size for R40 has reduced to 220m2.

Q. WHAT IS THE MINIMUM LOT SIZE REQUIREMENT FOR SAY R20 & R40 CODED LAND?

R20 – Table 1 of the Residential Design Codes stipulates the minimum lot size as 350m2.

R40 – Table 1 of the Residential Design Codes stipulates the minimum lot size as 180m2.

Q. HOW LARGE DOES A PROPERTY NEED TO BE TO HAVE SUBDIVISION POTENTIAL IF IT IS R20 & SIMILARLY IF IT IS R40?

R20 – We need to refer to the average lot size requirement being 450m2.

2 lot potential = 2 x 450m2 = minimum 900m2 required.

3 lot potential = 3 x 450m2 = minimum 1350m2 required.

R40 – We need to refer to the average lot size requirement being 220m2.

               2 lot potential = 2 x 220m2 = minimum 440m2 required.

3 lot potential = 3 x 220m2 = minimum 660m2 required.  

There is also the ability to apply for a variation to the minimum and/or average lot size, generally a 5% variation is acceptable.

Q. WHAT IF I WISH TO RETAIN THE EXISTING HOUSE WITH SAY AN R20 & R40 SUBDIVISION?

R20 – We need to refer to the minimum lot size requirement being 350m2.

Let’s assume a property is 1,000m2 (therefore maximum 2 lot potential based on average lot size requirements). Provided there is a minimum of 350m2 vacant land either to the side or rear* of the house then the existing house could be retained i.e. the ‘house lot’ is 650m2 (compliant as >350m2) and the new vacant lot is a minimum of 350m2.

*in the case of a battleaxe or house-behind-house configured subdivision the access leg / driveway to rear lot is generally not able to be used to contribute to minimum lot size requirement unless specific technical requirements are met.

It should be noted that setback requirements to existing dwellings will also need to be satisfied.

R40 – We need to refer to the minimum lot size requirement being 180m2.

Let’s assume a property is 600m2 (therefore maximum 2 lot potential based on average lot size requirements). Provided there is a minimum of 180m2 vacant land either to the side or rear* of the house then the existing house could be retained i.e. the ‘house lot’ is 420m2 (compliant as >180m2) and the new vacant lot is a minimum of 180m2.

*in the case of a battleaxe or house-behind-house configured subdivision the access leg / driveway to rear lot is generally not able to be used to contribute to minimum lot size requirement unless specific technical requirements are met.

It should be noted that setback requirements to existing dwellings will also need to be satisfied.

Q. WHAT DOES R20/40 MEAN?

Sometimes Local Planning Scheme maps identify properties as have a ‘dual’ density code such as R20/40. This does not mean that you can just pick R40 because it suits you. In order to qualify for the higher ‘discretionary’ density the Local Planning Scheme text will outline criteria that a subdivision must meet in order to qualify. Some examples are below:

City of Joondalup – proposed new lots must have a minimum frontage of 10m each (apart from rear battlaxe lot).

City of Wanneroo – all lots must share / utilise 1 single access point for access (crossover).

City of Swan – to subdivide into more than 2 lots a property needs to be a minimum of 1300m2.

Q. WHAT ARE WESTERN POWER REQUIREMENTS FOR A SUBDIVISION?

Western Power is consulted with every subdivision. All new lots must be serviced by a pillar (green power dome) including a lot which contains an existing dwelling to be retained. Therefore if an existing dwelling has an overhead power line connected to the roof, this must be removed and power supplied via an underground cable which connects the house to the pillar.

Survey Strata subdivisions – 1 pillar can service all lots. Should the distance from the pillar to a new lot be >30m or the subdivision be creating 3 or more lots then a Site Main Distribution Board will also need to be installed.

Green Title subdivisions – 1 pillar can service a maximum of 2 lots (provided it is on the common boundary). Therefore multiple pillars may be required depending on the size of the subdivision.

Note that Western Power will only provide a quote once the subdivision application has been approved.

Q. WHAT ARE WESTERN POWER COSTS FOR A SUBDIVISION?

Western Power fees have fluctuated greatly in recent years and generally change on the 1st July every year. We have also experienced inconsistency in fees. Our interpretation of current fees is:

$2,331 for a 2 lot subdivision and $4,662 for a 3 lot subdivision (fees are the same regardless of whether a pillar exists, type of subdivision & which side of the road power lines are located).

Q. DO I NEED TO ALSO ENGAGE A PRIVATE ELECTRICIAN?

Where applicable developers will need to engage a private electrician to install a Site Main Distribution Board and / or connect existing dwelling being retained to pillar via underground cable (overhead to underground conversion).

Q. WHAT ARE WATER CORPORATION / DEVELOPER REQUIREMENTS FOR A SUBDIVISION?

All lots to be physically capable of having both a water & sewer connection point without needing to trespass other lots.

Q. WHAT ARE WATER CORPORATION COSTS FOR A SUBDIVISION?

Approximately $7,000 contribution (headworks contribution) per additional lot being created i.e. 2 lot subdivision is ~$7,000 and 3 lot subdivision is ~$14,000.

Water Corporation do not undertake any physical works as part of the subdivision process. The above contribution includes payment for future water meter/s which are installed at the time of dwelling construction.

For Green Title subdivisions Water Corporation will also charge a fee of ~$535 for every additional lot being the sewer junction cut-in fee.

In rare cases a water meter may need to be relocated (only where house is being retained and existing water meter is no longer located within proposed house lot). Fees are ~$500 if the relocation is <0.5m and ~$1,400 if the required relocation is >0.5m.

Q. DO I NEED TO ALSO ENGAGE A PRIVATE LICENSED PLUMBER?

Green Title subdivision – developers will need to engage a private Licensed Plumber to provide all lots with a separate independent sewer junction from the Water Corporations sewer main.

Plumbers fees will depend on the depth of the sewer main and the location of the sewer main (may be located over the fence in adjoining neighbours property).

If a house is being retained and if the internal sewer line (PVC pipe that connects the house to the sewer junction) crosses another lot then this will either need to be re-aligned or a new line installed so that the sewer line is fully within the confines of the house lot.

Survey Strata subdivision – developers will need to engage a private Licensed Plumber if the new lot/s don’t have access to the existing sewer junction (sewer junctions are shared with Survey Strata subdivisions). Internal sewer lines can cross other lots in Survey Strata subdivisions.

Plumbers fees will depend on the length of the ‘run in’ required and what potential obstructions are in the way of the ‘run in’.

Q. WHAT ARE TYPICAL LOCAL GOVERNMENT / COUNCIL REQUIREMENTS FOR A SUBDIVISION?

Requirements vary between Council’s with the standard requirements being:

> all new vacant lots need to be devoid of man-made materials such as sheds, concrete, brick paving, rubble, building materials etc.

> any existing septic tanks are to be removed.

> redundant crossovers to be removed.

> need to ensure no significant level differences with adjoining properties without retaining walls (perimeter fences cannot be used for retaining wall purposes).

> if a house is being retained then it needs to be provided with:

– 2 hardstand (concrete / brick paving) car bays (roof cover is not a standard requirement).

– compliant Outdoor Living Area (courtyard) which is directly accessible from a habitable room.

– a new or upgraded crossover may be required.

– enclosed lockable storage area / garden shed which is a minimum of 4m2 with minimum dimensions of 1.5m (only applicable for Survey Strata subdivisions which contain Common Property).

– stormwater run-off from downpipes needs to be contained within the confines of the house lot.

– minimum 3m clear access down side of house to rear lot.

Non-standard or uncommon requirements include:

  • Developer or public open space contributions.
  • Geotechnical reports / stormwater drainage installation (applicable with areas with clay types soils and poor drainage capabilities).
  • Sealing Right of Way if located at rear of property.
  • Access-way / battleaxe driveway construction.
  • Fill / retain / level vacant lots.
Q. WHAT IS THE TYPICAL SUBDIVISION TIMEFRAME?

On average a Survey Strata or Green Title subdivision typically take approx. 10 months (a minimum of 5 Government agencies are involved with the subdivision process). Slightly shorter timeframes can be achieved however these are generally for vacant lot subdivisions where a house isn’t being retained (provided the house is demolished early in the subdivision timeline).

If a dwelling is being retained then factors such as whether the property is on underground power and whether the house needs to be modified to enable side access to the rear can have a large impact on project timeframes.

Should the property have a mortgage then the particular bank can also impact timing of new Titles being issued as different banks have different procedures in regards to when they will consent to the subdivision (contact TLD Settlements for further info).

The main factor that influences subdivision timeframes is how quickly the owners fulfil the requirements of the developers subdivision conditions that form part of the WAPC approval. Some clients who are comfortable that their subdivision is highly likely to be approved will commence with working on the expected subdivision requirements before the WAPC approval is issued in order to reduce timeframes.

SUBDIVISION PLANS

A minimum of 2 subdivision plans are generally prepared as part of the land subdivision process. The first plan is the preliminary or proposed subdivision plan. This plan is typically overlaid on the ‘site feature & contour survey’. The initial proposed subdivision plan is lodged with the WA Planning Commission (WAPC) for assessment and forms the key component of the subdivision application. All going well the WAPC will approve the proposed subdivision plan.

After the subdivision plan has been approved and Licensed surveyors have ‘pegged’ the subdivision the final subdivision plan (Landgate plan) is prepared. This plan will show the legal dimensions and areas for the lots and is used to describe a lot in any Offer & Acceptance.

It should be noted that as most feature surveys and consequently proposed subdivision plans are based on fence lines being placed at the true cadastral lot boundary (this is generally +/-0.2m accuracy) the final lot dimensions may differ to the proposed plan for this reason. Subdivision conditions may also require changes to lot areas and dimensions.