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2 March 2019

New design rules to lift standards

Western Australian Minister for Planning, the Hon. Rita Saffioti recently launched stage one of the highly anticipated Design WA initiative at a UDIA WA event that attracted a sell-out crowd.

The number of guests was testament to the level of interest surrounding how the new guidelines will impact the design and development of higher-density projects moving forward.

Stage one of Design WA sets out 10 principles for ‘good design’ and includes the new State Planning Policy 7.0: Design of the Built Environment and the Apartment Design Guide, along with establishing new design review panels.

UDIA has welcomed the introduction of Design WA given our strong support for good design outcomes to ensure high quality of living standards for those looking to purchase a new home.

Of course, there are many developers who are already raising the bar for design and liveability in new apartment projects, and there are several UDIA Awards for Excellence winners who are evidence of that.

However, there are a small number of projects that don’t meet the high standards that the rest of the industry is setting and it is therefore beneficial to have a consistent standard and expectation across the board.

While stage one focuses on apartment design, Perth also needs the subsequent stages released as soon as possible, particularly the Medium Density Code. This is important because it is in the medium density category that we see some of the poorer outcomes that are emerging, particularly in infill areas.

The 10 principles of Design WA address areas such as safety, aesthetics, landscape, community and sustainability. These principles are all important aspects of ensuring quality places to live for future generations, however, it will also be important to maintain affordability when implementing the new standards.

Affordability has not been included as one of the 10 principles, and that is concerning given there are a raft of requirements in the Apartment Design Guide that could add additional costs to apartments.

UDIA is also keen to see appropriate support and training provided to local government officers who are going to be interpreting these new guidelines. This will be critical to ensuring consistency in implementation and a timely approvals process.

At the end of the day, a diversity of housing choices in every suburb must be a priority as Perth grows to a city of 3.5 million people.

Design WA will be an important part of assisting in getting the mix right and maintaining good design outcomes into the future.