Aerial view of city intersection with trees in the middle

As development in the Perth and Peel regions continues to increase in order to support a growing population, there is the need for planning instruments to offer design guidance for areas intended to accommodate a large population and multiple land uses. These areas are defined as ‘precincts’ in State Planning Policy 7.2 – Precinct Design (SPP 7.2) gazetted earlier this year.

Precincts require a higher level planning and design focus due to their complexity and include activity centre, station precincts and urban corridors. SPP 7.2. became operational on 19 February 2021 and is intended to assist in the planning and design of these precincts. Detailed guidelines have been developed to provide support for the implementation of SPP 7.2 (Guidelines).

The gazettal of SPP 7.2 will necessitate future planning scheme amendments to allow new design standards and possibly new land zonings to be incorporated into the relevant scheme.

Integration of SPP 7.2 with existing planning framework

SPP 7.2 and the Guidelines apply to precincts throughout Western Australia and require regard to be had to State Planning Policy 7.0 – Design of the Built Environment (SPP 7.0), State Planning Policy 7.1 -Neighbourhood Design (SPP 7.1) and the Residential Design Codes (R-Codes).

Design guidance for precinct planning

Part 3 of the Guidelines contains six ‘precinct design elements’ which address the varying elements of good precinct design. The six elements are (a) urban ecology, (b) urban structure, (c) public realm, (d) movement, (e) land use and (f) built form.

When read in combination it is clear that the six precinct design elements have a number of common objectives.

First, there is a strong focus on sustainable urban development. This includes outcomes to maintain and strengthen green corridors and encourage climate-responsive building design to reduce energy demand across a precinct.

Secondly, there is a focus on promoting modes of transport other than cars. This is promoted through street and block layouts that support the provision of an active public transport network and which encourage walking and cycling. Interestingly, the Guidelines also require the design of a precinct to identify the existing and predicted proportions of transport methods (driving, public transport, walking and cycling) in order to plan for the future and to encourage the adoption of the preferred modes of transport for that precinct.

Thirdly, the Guidelines include numerous objectives which are intended to promote a sense of community and social cohesion. This includes designing public spaces which can be adapted for multiple uses and which can be altered over time as community needs change. There is also a requirement for the design of the public realm to consider and integrate cultural heritage, in particular Aboriginal history, knowledge and heritage, into the design of new precincts.

Implementation of SPP 7.2 and Guidelines

As noted above, the introduction of SPP 7.2 will require existing local planning schemes to be amendment to incorporate the new design standards and new land zonings. SPP 7.2 and the Guidelines will require development contribution plans to consider how the infrastructure necessary to meet the precinct objectives will be funded and implemented.

Local governments will also be required to review regularly precinct plans prepared under SPP 7.2 and the Guidelines to ensure that they are meeting their stated objectives and vision. The Guidelines suggest that this monitoring should occur against predetermined metrics, to ensure that the ability of a precinct to perform against the objectives and goals of the precinct can be measured.