Fremantle markets

Fremantle Council in Western Australia has agreed to create draft planning provisions for smaller, denser units with modest maximum sizes and car parking.

“The eventual aim is to draft a scheme amendment that will help combat Perth’s urban sprawl,” the council said in a media statement this week.

The new provisions will allow low-density properties to build smaller “grouped dwellings” while retaining the streetscape and amenity of the area.

Key to the proposals would be:

  • Any new dwelling to have a maximum floor area of 120 square metre
  • A maximum of one car bay provided for each new dwelling
  • No visitor parking for developments of less than five dwellings
  • A minimum of 60 per cent open space over the entire development site
  • A minimum of 15 per cent of the development site area set aside for a deep planting zone (for large trees) with at least one tree, to council specifications, required to be retained or planted on the site.

The move follows an early provision for “granny” flats of 70 square metres that could be occupied by people other than family members – an idea that was later rolled out by other councils in WA.

Mayor Brad Pettitt on Thursday told The Fifth Estate the move would create denser, more diverse housing and rental options in his suburb where the average house price was now around $800,000.

“We were the first in many ways to allow granny flats, or very small dwelling of around 70 square metres that could not be subdivided from the main property,” he said. “This takes it to another level of possibility of more diverse dwelling.”

The move was a way to counter relentless urban sprawl, Mr Pettitt said.

“Western Australia has a problem – which is Australia wide – that the average house is still 240 or 250 square metres, with less and less people living in them and we wonder why we have an affordability problem.”

The first part of the scheme was taken up “very well indeed,” he said.

Mr Pettitt didn’t have numbers at hand but he estimated about 100 of these “granny” flats were built and rented “to students or whoever you like, and people find they pay for themselves very quickly indeed and it adds to a diverse affordable rental market”.

Was there opposition?

“There was always opposition but the support for is stronger.” And the scheme won a national planning award.

Mr Pettit said he hoped the current proposals would likewise be appreciated and hopefully replicated.

“We hope that by pioneering others will follow”.

He said another council setting a good example was Nedlands, in one of the wealthiest areas of Perth, that this week announced it had mandated 1.5 kilowatts of onsite renewable energy for new houses, and site appropriate renewable energy requirements for the non-residential buildings over $1million.

How did Mr Pettitt view the Nedlands move, given the area’s conservative nature?

“What it means is the mainstreaming of sustainability,” he said.

A council statement said that Western Australian Planning Commission’s strategic document Directions 2031 and Beyond (2010) had set a target of 47 per cent of new developments to be provided from infill, instead of greenfield development.

“The decision was made after considering findings of research undertaken by the Australian Urban Design Research Centre, which was contracted by the council to model the principles.

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  1. This is great news Brad, well done. Another great step forward for Fremantle. I am looking forward to see the type of developments this new planning provision attracts. Martin