State Planning Policy 7.3 - Residential Design Codes - Apartments

The residential design provisions for apartments with supporting documents.

State Planning Policy 7.3 Residential Design Codes Volume 2 – Apartments, often referred to as R-Codes Volume 2 or the Apartment Design Policy became operational following publication in the Government Gazette on 24 May 2019.

This is a policy for apartments in areas coded R40 and above, and the residential component of mixed-use developments. Consequential amendments are proposed to R-Codes Volume 2 – Apartments subject to the public consultation process associated with the Medium Density Code. 

Useful links

I have the hard copy bound version of Apartment Design / SPP 7.3 R-Codes Volume 2. Why are there some minor differences?

Since the public release of the State Planning Policy 7.3: Residential Design Codes Volume 2 – Apartments, a number of minor edits to the policy have been made prior to gazettal. They are considered minor in nature, do not change the intent of the document and clarify the interpretation of certain provisions. View the minor modifications document.

These changes have been incorporated into the online version of the document. For those with a hard copy of the policy, it is recommended you make note of the changes.

What are the reasons for Apartment Design / SPP 7.3 R-Codes Volume 2 being a performance based policy rather than deemed-to-comply?

Apartments are generally complex proposals and the former deemed-to-comply approach has led to some poor outcomes. Performance-based design principles identify the objectives to be met without prescribing how to achieve them.

This allows greater flexibility for developers and designers to provide innovative solutions to design challenges and better reconcile design requirements against the complexities of site and context. Design review is an essential component of this approach as qualitative assessment is required to determine whether the required performance outcomes have been achieved.

By being performance based policy rather than deemed-to-comply, how will Apartment Design hold up with respect to applications for review at State Administrative Tribunal?

Performance-based design principles identify the objectives to be met without prescribing how to achieve them. This allows flexibility for developers and designers to provide innovative solutions to design challenges and to better reconcile design requirements against the complexities of site and content. Good decision making is based on evidence and well-considered information.

Design review is an essential component of this approach as qualitative assessment is required to determine whether the required performance outcomes have been achieved. Engaging in design review early in the process will help proponents improve the design quality of their project and application, hopefully enabling a smoother approvals process. Where a matter is referred to the State Administrative Tribunal for review and the quality of the design is a key consideration in this process, the Design Review Panel Chair may be invited to attend proceedings to discuss the proposal.

What happens to the existing local planning framework that were adopted before gazettal of the new R-Codes?

It is vital for local planning frameworks to be reviewed and updated to ensure they are kept contemporary and perform consistent to with the aspirations of the community.

For Apartment proposals, please refer to:

Part 1.2 Local Planning Framework provides additional information; as well as:

Position Statement SPP 7.3 R-Codes Vol 2 relationship to pre-existing local planning framework (PDF 498 kb)

How does R-Codes apply on land without an R-Code or to DevelopmentWA and Improvement Scheme Areas?

This largely depends on what the relevant scheme provision that reads the R-Codes into the scheme provides for. Clause 25(4) of the model provisions contained in the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 provides: “The R-Codes apply to an area if the area has a coding number superimposed on it in accordance with subclause (3).” Therefore, for schemes that are consistent with the model provisions, it will be the case that the R-Codes apply where there is a coding number on the scheme map. In all other instances, the R-Codes will need to be given ‘due regard’ in accordance with clause 67(c) of the deemed provisions.

It is noted that in the previous Part 6 of the former R-Codes (SPP 3.1), land zoned for mixed use development without an assigned R-Code should be assessed as R-AC3. This is no longer included in the R-Codes Volume 2. Further consultation with the Department is encouraged in these limited instances for mixed use zone land without an R-Coding.

The R-Codes will generally not apply to land within Improvement Scheme Areas and DevelopmentWA redevelopment areas unless stated within the scheme text. For further clarification, please contact the relevant authority.

If amendments are required to a development application approved before gazettal of the new R-Codes, does the entire application need to be assessed or only the aspects being amended?

If the application was not approved prior to gazettal of the latest version of the R-Codes, local authorities will be required to assess it under the latest version of the R-Codes. This also applies where modifications are proposed to existing development approvals. For details on specific proposals, please contact the relevant local government.

Does Apartment Design specify a minimum screening height for visual privacy?

The design of apartments must balance the need for outlook and daylight access with the need for privacy. Design Guidance 3.5.5 in SPP 7.3 Volume 2 suggests screening devices as a potential alternative solution to satisfy the Element Objectives for Visual Privacy.

How do I measure the average side setback set out in Table 2.1?

The intent of this provision is to address long articulated walls alongside boundaries and provide for articulation. The average setback is calculated for the length of the building adjacent to the boundary. It is important to note that the average and minimum side setbacks specified in Table 2.1 are Acceptable Outcomes only and do not guarantee the Element Objectives have been met.

Please refer to 2.4 Side and rear setbacks - Calculating average side setbacks, in the technical guidance section for more information.

How do I assess the solar and daylight access Acceptable Outcome A4.1.1?

The intent of element 4.1 Solar and daylight access, is to optimise the number of dwellings that receive winter sunlight to habitable rooms.

Orientation of habitable spaces is one of the critical factors in determining solar access, however it is important to consider other factors such as building separation, balcony depth and ceiling height. Figure 4.1b has been provided to demonstrate if the orientation of the

private open space and windows to habitable rooms are capable of achieving 2 hours of direct sunlight between 9am and 3pm on 21 June.

It is expected that proponents should provide clear and accurate information to demonstrate the Element Objectives have been met. Please refer to 4.1 Solar and daylight access – Demonstrating solar access, in the technical guidance section for more information.

How do I assess the natural ventilation Acceptable Outcome A4.2.2(b)?

One of the most efficient ways to ensure dwellings are naturally cross ventilated is by providing dual aspect apartments. This is not always achievable due to specific site conditions, so A2.2.2(b) provides an option for single aspect apartments to meet the Acceptable Outcomes. A4.2.2(b) provides the optimum orientation to achieve this with:

00 - 450 of the prevailing cooling wind = Fair orientation

450 - 900 of the prevailing cooling wind = Optimum orientation

Orientation for natural ventilation should consider location and site context. In some environments direct orientation to the prevailing wind is preferable, however often in coastal locations shelter from the prevailing wind is necessary. Natural ventilation also needs to be balanced against solar access orientation requirements. Please refer to 4.2 Natural ventilation – Optimal orientation for natural ventilation, in the technical guidance section for more information.

Are there any templates to help with Apartment Design?

Yes. A range of support materials has been made available to assist applicants and assessors in applying the Design WA policies. The templates are available for download on this page.

For Apartment Developments, the following Appendices within SPP 7.3 Residential Design Codes Volume 2 – Apartments are available for download from the Design WA documents and additional resources page as individual Microsoft Word documents. This includes:

  • R-Codes Volume 2 – Apartments Assessment Template
  • A4 Design Development Guidance: Assists proponents as their designs develop. Includes a list of basic information that should be provided by the applicant for design review prior to development application
  • A5 Development Application Guidance: Assists proponents in formulating the appropriate materials when submitting a development application
  • A6 Objectives Summary: Assists proponents and assessors to explain and assess the development against the Element Objectives listed in the Apartment Design Policy

SPP 7.3 R-Codes

Templates

SPP 7.3 R-Codes Vol. 2

R-Codes Vol.2 - A5 Development application guidance

Technical guidance

For the application of SPP 7.3 R-Codes Vol. 2

2.4 Side and rear setbacks - Calculating average side setbacks
3.3 Tree canopy and deep soil areas – Calculating deep soil areas
4.1 Solar and daylight access - Demonstrating solar access
4.2 Natural ventilation - Optimal orientation for natural ventilation

Additional resources

SGS - Apartment Design Policy Economic Evaluation
Design WA Stage One - Draft Apartment Design Policy Testing Report
Page reviewed 3 September 2021