Frequently asked questions

Find more information and frequently asked questions regarding planning and building applications below.

  • Modifying existing buildings

    When considering a fitout, refurbishment, modification or alteration to an existing building there are a number of matters which need to be considered and specialised expert advice may be required. 

    The City of Perth can provide specialised expert advice on the upgrade of existing building stock in relation to new uses, strata titles, fire safety, energy efficiency, access for people with disabilities and to meet acceptable life safety requirements. In some instances, the particular building may be on the State Heritage Register or listed under the City of Perth Planning Scheme and may require a planning application prior to making application for a building permit.

    The Building Code of Australia classification is determined by the purposes for which a building is designed, constructed or adapted to be used. It is important to note that a proposed use may constitute as a change in use, or building classification, and this requires the building to be compared and assessed to current building regulations.

    The building approval process ensures the building is suitable for the proposed use as each classification has different associated risks and requirements.The common issues when attempting to change a building’s classification include: 

    • The existing building’s structural adequacy.
    • Fire resistance of the building structure and materials.
    • Fire separation between different building uses and adjoining buildings.
    • The number, size and location of available exits.
    • Disabled access.
    • Fire services and equipment.
    • Provision and type of sanitary facilities.

    Applicants should be aware of the complexity involved in a change of classification, these applications will typically require multiple approvals and they may trigger costly building upgrades. In extreme cases, the building may no longer be suitable for the intended use and could be considered either dangerous or unfit for occupation. In this instance, the City of Perth can work with the building owner to identify any upgrades to the building to mitigate any risk to occupants.

     
  • Using residential apartments for short term accommodation

    Residential apartment buildings within the City of Perth are approved for permanent or short-term use. A mixture of the two uses within the same building can also be approved by the City, although they are generally located on separate floors and include separate entrances.  

    New online platforms such as Airbnb, Booking.com and Stayz make it relatively easy to rent your apartment or house out to guests for short periods of time. This can be a valuable source of income, although short term guests can have a significant impact on permanent city residents. These impacts include issues related to fire safety, health, amenity and an increased financial burden on owners. There may also be longer term adverse impacts on building quality, property values and the way city living is viewed if short term accommodation is not effectively managed.

    While the City values the role that a range of temporary accommodation options play in supporting tourism, the City also needs to protect the amenity of permanent city residents.

    Planning requirements

    Renting your apartment or house to short term guests on a commercial basis is changing the nature of the occupation of the property. This change of use requires planning approval from the City. 

    The City has a Special Residential (Serviced and Short Term Accommodation) Policy which provides clear guidance on the development of these uses and promotes the orderly and proper planning of the city. Any application to change permanent residential apartment or house to allow short term rentals will be assessed against the requirements of this policy. 

    A piecemeal approach to change permanent residential to short term accommodation and vice versa on a dwelling by dwelling basis is not considered appropriate and will not be supported by the City. Failure to get the necessary approvals may lead to fines or other penalties resulting from the unlawful use of your property. 

    Building Code requirements

    It should also be noted that short-stay and serviced apartments are classified as class 3 buildings under the Building Code of Australia. All applications for change of use of existing buildings to special residential uses, two storeys or higher, will be required to demonstrate how the development will comply with Australian Standard 1670. This requires a building wide alarm and connect to the fire brigade through a fire indicator panel.

    All applications will also be required to demonstrate compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act.

    Further details

    If you are considering using your apartment or house for short term accommodation you should contact the City’s planning officers and building surveyors to discuss the current approved use. Relevant planning scheme definitions are:

    • Residential: premises providing for long term or permanent residential accommodation including grouped dwellings, single houses and multiple dwellings.
    • Special residential: premises providing short term, temporary or specialised residential accommodation including a lodging house, hotel and serviced apartment.
    • Short term accommodation: premises used for accommodation that may be occupied by the same person/s for a maximum period of three months within any 12-month period, and are not subject to residential tenancy agreements (residential leases).
     
  • Home occupations

    What is a home occupation?

    A home occupation is the carrying on of any business conducted in a dwelling or within the boundaries of the lot upon which a dwelling is constructed but does not include the sale or hire of any goods.

    Do I need approval for a home occupation?

    Planning approval is not required for a home occupation where: 

    • A home occupation is listed as a P (preferred) use in the City Planning Scheme No. 2 or Local Planning Scheme No. 26.
    • It complies with the above definition and the City’s Home Occupation Policy.
    • Does not involve any external alterations to the building.
    • Does not involve any works to a heritage building.

    Former Subiaco area

    Within the former Subiaco area, there are three different levels of business that can be run from a dwelling including a home office, home occupation, home business.

    Home office refers to a home occupation limited to a business carried out solely within a dwelling by a resident of the dwelling but which does not: 

    • Entail clients or customers travelling to and from the dwelling.
    • Involve any advertising signs on the premises.
    • Require any external change to the appearance of the dwelling.

    Home occupation refers to an occupation carried out in a dwelling or on land around a dwelling by an occupier of the dwelling which: 

    • Does not employ any person not a member of the occupier’s household.
    • Will not cause injury to or adversely affect the amenity of the neighbourhood
    • Does not occupy an area greater than 20 square metres.
    • Does not display a sign exceeding 0.2 square metres. 
    • Does not involve the retail sale, display or hire of goods of any nature.
    • In relation to vehicles and parking, does not result in the requirement for a greater number of parking facilities than normally required for a single dwelling or an increase in traffic volume in the neighbourhood, does not involve the presence, use or calling of a vehicle more than 2-tonnes tare weight, and does not include provision for the fuelling, repair or maintenance of motor vehicles.
    • Does not involve the use of an essential service of greater capacity than normally required in the zone.

    Home business refers to a business, service or profession carried out in a dwelling or on land around a dwelling by an occupier of the dwelling which:  

    • Does not employ more than two people not members of the occupier’s household.
    • Will not cause injury to or adversely affect the amenity of the neighbourhood.
    • Does not occupy an area greater than 50 square metres.
    • Does not involve the retail sale, display or hire of goods of any nature.
    • In relation to vehicles and parking, does not result in traffic difficulties as a result of the inadequacy of parking or an increase in traffic volumes in the neighbourhood, and does not involve the presence, use or calling of a vehicle more than 3.5 tonnes tare weight.
    • Does not involve the use of an essential service of greater capacity than normally required in the zone.

    Do I need approval for a home occupation?

    Planning approval is not required for a home occupation where: 
    • A home office, home occupation or home business is listed as P (permitted) use within Table 1 of the City of Subiaco Town Planning Scheme No. 4.
    • It complies with the relevant home office, home occupation or home business definition.
    • Does not involve any external alterations to the building.
    • Does not involve any works to a heritage building.

    What do I need to submit for a home occupation?

    A written submission outlining details of the proposed business is required to be provided including the following information:

    • The nature of the home occupation e.g. bookkeeping, clothing alterations, drafting.
    • Number of people employed by the business, other than the occupier.
    • Hours of operation.
    • Details of the operations including any equipment required e.g. facsimile, phone, computers.
    • Details of storage, distribution, delivery and sale of any goods from the site if applicable.
    • Details of number of persons attending the subject premises in association with the home occupation on a daily/weekly basis including customers/clients, distributors, delivery vehicles.
    • The number and type of vehicles used in connection with the business.

    Further to the above written submission, additional information required to be submitted for a home occupation application can be found in Minor Development applications information sheet.

    Further Questions?

    For further enquiries, or to make an appointment with a planner, please contact the City’s Development Approvals Unit on 08 9461 3352.
     
  • Change of use (planning)

    What is a change of use?

    A change of use may include:

    • Introducing a new use to an existing building.
    • Changes to the existing use’s area(s) within a building.

    When do I need approval?

    Where you propose to use any site for a different use than that approved for the site, planning approval is required to be granted prior to commencing the use. If you don’t know what the current approved use of a site is, please contact a planner to establish the use. Even though a proposal may not involve the construction of any building or other works, changing or introducing a new use to a property may require the development approval of the City.

    Former Subiaco area

    A change of use within the former City of Subiaco area does not require planning approval or zoned land where:

    • The use is changing to a ‘Permitted’ (‘P’) use.

    • It does not include any works which are not exempt, or varying any standards of the planning framework including the provision of car parking.

    • The development is not occurring on a heritage site.

    What does the City assess my application against?

    All applications for a change of use are assessed against the relevant planning framework. In addition to this, the application will be referred to appropriate units within the City for assessment and advice.  

    Common issues that arise as part of the assessment process include, but are not limited to, the following: 

    • Compliance with the requirements of the Building Codes of Australia including the provision of universal access (disabled access).

    • Compliance with health legislation, primarily Public Building requirements.

    • The provision of new external services required and how they are going to be screened.

    • Heritage matters.

    • The storage and collection of waste in accordance with the City’s Waste Guidelines.

    What do I need to submit for a change of use?

    The information required to be submitted for a change of use application can be found in the City’s Minor Development applications information sheet on the City’s website. 

    Further Questions?

    For further enquiries, or to make an appointment with a planner, please contact the City’s Development Approvals Unit on 08 9461 3352.

  • Signage

    When do I need approval?

    Appendix 2 of the City’s Signs Policy 4.6 sets out criteria that different types of signs must comply with to be exempt from planning approval. Any signage that does not comply with the conditions for exemption requires planning approval prior to the sign being installed.

    Change of Content of Approved Signs

    Where it is only proposed to change the content of an existing sign planning approval is not required if:

    • The proposed content is consistent with an approved signage strategy for the premises, and/or the sign and its structure and fixings have a valid development approval granted after June 2014.
    • The sign is not located within or on a place on the heritage list or within a heritage area.
    • The proposed content is not third party advertising or animated or variable content, or the sign has a valid development approval for this type of content and the proposed content is consistent with an approved signage management plan.
      The proposed content is not offensive.
    • No other change to the sign, including to its illumination, external dimensions, surrounding or supporting structure, fixings or cabling, is proposed.

    What does the City assess my application against?

    All applications for signs which to do not comply with the exemptions are assessed against the City’s Signs Policy 4.6 and any other relevant planning framework. The policy sets out general provisions, provisions for specific types of signs, signs on heritage places and within heritage areas and place specific requirements. 

    Signage within Subiaco area

    All signage within the former City of Subiaco area requires planning approval unless the signage complies with the exempted advertisement, which is outlined in Part 5 of the Advertising Signs Policy.

    Further questions?

    For further enquiries, or to make an appointment with a planner, please contact the City’s Development Approvals Unit on 08 9461 3352.

     
  • Zoning and land use

    Land uses

    The City is divided into 15 areas known as precincts, and each lot has a specific zoning. Each precinct is different in terms of the permissibility of land uses. This is determined by referring to the use group tables of the City Planning Scheme with each land use category within a precinct being classified either (or combination of) the following symbols: 

    • P: This is a preferred use in the precinct and is one the City supports.
    • C: This is a ‘contemplated’ use may be either approved or rejected by the City. Applications which involve a contemplated use must be sent to the CEO where they can be reviewed by the Elected Councillors. Given this, these applications are anticipated to have longer processing time as it may involve a decision made by Council. 
    • X: This is a prohibited use and cannot be approved by the City. 

    A number of land uses can make up a use group. Further details of each land use, and which use group they fall within can be found in the City’s Schedule 4 – Definitions on the City’s website.

    Normalised redevelopment areas

    Properties within Precinct 15 and a portion of Precinct 1 are subject to the Local Planning Scheme No. 26 (LPS26). Properties within this area must refer to Table 1 of the LPS26 for the use permissibility and for the definition of uses not defined under the City Planning Scheme No. 2.

    Former Subiaco area

     The former Subiaco area does not have precincts, but zones and individual land uses, not use categories. Table 1 of the Subiaco Town Planning Scheme No. 4 sets out the use permissibility within a zone by the following symbols:

    • P: This is a permitted use in the precinct and is one the City supports.
    • D: This is a discretionary use may be either approved or rejected by the City. Applications which involve a contemplated use must be sent to the CEO where they can be reviewed by the Elected Councillors. Given this, these applications are anticipated to have longer processing time as it may involve a decision made by Council.
    • A: This is a discretionary use that is subject to advertising by the City.
    • X: This is a prohibited use and cannot be approved by the City.

    For the definitions of each land use please refer to Schedule 1 of this Subiaco Town Planning Scheme No 4. 

    What if the use is not listed?

    If a use does not fall within any land uses defined under the City’s scheme, the use is determined to be an unlisted use. An unlisted use will require planning approval from the City and is required to be determined by Council. The use is required to be advertised and will be assessed against the provisions of the scheme and the intent of the precinct or zone.

    What is the difference between my zoning and approved use?

    The relevant planning scheme sets out the land use permissibility for a site, however this does not mean that the property is approved for this use. A planning application is required to be approved prior to a new land use being commenced. The exception to this is the former Subiaco area, which may not require planning approval where the proposed use is a permitted use.

    How do I find my precinct and zone?

    You can find which precinct your property falls under and the zoning of your lot by referring to the City’s scheme map or by searching for your property on the City’s mapping system and selecting the planning module or planning - Subiaco for the former Subiaco area.

    Further questions?

    For further enquiries, or to make an appointment with a planner, please contact the City’s Development Approvals Unit on 08 9461 3352.