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Council Approval Process Explained for Perth: Your Complete Guide to Hassle-Free Landscaping

Are you a proud homeowner in Perth, Western Australia, looking to transform your backyard or garden into a picturesque oasis? Or perhaps you're itching to embark on a DIY landscaping project to enhance your property's appeal? Whatever your landscaping aspirations may be, understanding the council approval process in Perth is crucial to ensure a smooth and successful project.


In this comprehensive guide, we'll demystify the council approval process in Perth and provide you with expert advice on how to navigate it with ease. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a busy professional with limited time, we've got you covered.


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Development Approval (Planning Approval)

What is it, and why do you need it? Development Approval, also known as planning approval, is often the first step in bringing your landscaping dreams to life. It's where your council's planning department assesses your application against the Residential Design Codes (the R-Codes) and local council planning policies. Without it, your project can hit a roadblock.


The essential steps in obtaining Development Approval: This process can take up to 90 days or more and involves detailed documentation and plans. Don't fret; Valley Design Co. specialises in navigating these complexities.


Common pitfalls to avoid when dealing with your council's Planning Department: It's easy to get tripped up without a knowledgeable designer. We know the R-codes and local planning policies inside and out.


How Valley Design Co. can assist you in this crucial phase: We make the process painless and ensure your project aligns perfectly with the council's requirements. Let's chat and take the stress out of it for you!


Once received, Development Approval is usually valid for 2 years.


Building Approval (Building Permit)

The significance of Building Approval in your landscaping project: Building Approval, also known as a Building Permit, is essential for most structures. It ensures that your project complies with the National Construction Code (NCC) and other technical standards.


Understanding the different types of building applications (BA1 vs. BA2): Know the difference and choose the right path for your project.


Why professional help is essential, especially for complex structures: Uncertified or certified applications? Valley Design Co. has the expertise to guide you through the process.


In Perth, most types of structures require a registered building contractor to complete the works, unless the value of the work is below 20K, or the works are exempt from the requirement. Structures like pools, retaining walls, freestanding walls, and decks may be more than 20K but are exempt from requiring a registered building contractor. Regardless of whether a registered building contractor or a building permit is required, all structures still need to comply with the NCC and other applicable technical standards. Therefore, it is very important to seek professional help when building any kind of structure.


Once received, Building Approval is usually valid for 2 years.


landscaping approval process

Landscaping Regulations and Requirements for Council Approval

Specific regulations homeowners should be aware of for landscaping projects:

  • Masonry Walls and Retaining Walls: All masonry walls over 750mm in height require a building permit, and in the case of retaining walls, anything over 500mm requires a building permit. Retaining walls often also need development approval, depending on their setbacks from property boundaries. This rule applies to any type of retaining wall over 500mm, whether it's made of masonry or not. So, if you're planning any significant changes to your landscape, be sure to check the height of your walls.

  • Fire Separation Requirements: Safety is paramount, and a 900mm fire separation at the boundary is required for most structures attached to your dwelling. However, there's flexibility here. You can design a freestanding structure to avoid this requirement, as long as it's set back 900mm or more from your dwelling. This rule also applies to ground-level decks since they are considered structures. If you're unsure about fire separation, consult a building surveyor for guidance. Masonry parapet walls or similar solutions can also be used to achieve fire separation.

  • Verge Permits: For many landscaping projects requiring a building permit, there's an additional step: obtaining a verge permit. This helps protect your council's verge during construction. The process might involve temporary fencing to safeguard street trees and may include a refundable bond along with a non-refundable application fee. Be proactive and document the verge condition before starting work. Ensure it's returned to its original state upon completion.

  • Level Adjustments and Visual Privacy: If you plan to adjust the levels in your yard, your design must comply with the site works portion of the R-Codes, as well as the visual privacy provisions. These provisions aim to prevent issues like overlooking into your neighbour's yards. Ensuring compliance is vital to a successful project.


When submitting a DA that includes landscaping, a minimum of one mature tree (90L or larger) is required. Additionally, the "street setback area" (basically the area between your front boundary and your house) needs to be landscaped and no more than 50% can be "impervious" surfaces (i.e. concrete or paving).


Council approvals can be complex but are not a problem when you engage a designer and contractors who know what they are doing. The process can take time! Between Planning and Building, it can sometimes take 5+ months to get a project fully approved. However, in general, the timeframes will be far shorter than this. Sometimes council rules can be frustrating to homeowners, but it's helpful to remember that they are in place to protect you too.


landscaping council approval perth

Expert Tips for a Seamless Landscaping Project

The key to success: Engaging a skilled designer. The right design team can make all the difference in your project's outcome! Valley Design Co. specialises in landscaping within the framework of the R-Codes and local council policies: We design with these regulations in mind.


Learn how we can simplify the entire development approval process for our clients: Let us handle the paperwork, so you can focus on your dream garden.


Are you ready to embark on your landscaping journey with confidence? Valley Design Co. is here to guide you every step of the way. Don't let the council approval process deter you from creating the garden of your dreams. Contact us today to learn how we can turn your landscaping vision into reality. Your dream garden is just a phone call away!

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