The City of Fremantle has voted to change its local planning scheme and adopt a new planning policy for infill developments that will see smaller houses, a greater diversity in developments and more green space.

The initiative, initially mooted for the southern suburbs of White Gum Valley, Samson, Hilton, O’Connor, Beaconsfield and Fremantle, will cap the size of dwellings built on lots larger than 600sqm and encourage more green space.

No more than three dwellings would be allowed on blocks 750sqm or less in size.

Under the policy, 70% of the entire development would be allocated to open space, with at least one large tree planted or retained for each dwelling. Parking would be limited to one bay per house.

In addition, developments would be required to have higher than standard energy efficiency ratings and include solar panels, rainwater tanks and grey water systems.

Fremantle Mayor, Brad Pettitt said the initiative, badged ‘Freo Alternative – Big Thinking about Small Housing’, was a groundbreaking new take on suburban infill.

“Because of the widespread concern about the impact of infill development in our suburbs, we wanted to create a shared community vision of the future of housing in Fremantle,” Pettitt said.

“Housing in Fremantle’s suburban areas has been getting larger as smaller housing stock is being removed and replaced with bigger homes. But at the same time, the proportion of households containing only one or two people has been growing. Council has also shared community concerns about the loss of tree canopy in our suburbs as lots are cleared for subdivision.”

The mayor added that the council’s challenge had been to come up with a way of delivering more diverse and affordable housing while retaining the established form and feel of the streetscapes and neighbourhoods that had attracted residents to the area in the first place.

The City of Fremantle said the State Government-set density targets for the metropolitan area cater for population growth and limit urban sprawl but poorly planned or inappropriate infill developments do not always meet housing needs or the expectations of local residents.

Urban Development Institute of Australia WA Chief Executive, Allison Hailes said the institute supports initiatives that increase housing diversity to meet changing lifestyle needs, address affordability and lift density in certain areas.

But Hailes said the delivery of greater housing diversity should be led by the State Government to ensure consistency.

“UDIA has been advocating for the State Government to introduce a medium density policy to facilitate more medium density housing in Perth for some time, in order to provide a clear framework for developers to be able to deliver quality product in appropriate locations,” she said, adding that medium density housing could be successfully integrated into areas with exisiting, traditional housing stock and that these provided a transition between larger, single homes and higher density apartment living.

“This type of housing diversity can achieve excellent outcomes for the community and enable people to move or downsize in their existing community… we need to ensure that our policy environment is aimed at facilitating more housing diversity and that it’s implemented correctly and in the right areas.”

The City of Fremantle proposal will be sent to Planning Minister Rita Saffioti and planning authorities for a final determination. If successful, it will be reviewed in four years after which it may be rolled out to other locations.