Do you have a family home on a large block you’d like to subdivide? Perhaps you have a Perth investment property you could divide into smaller lots for profit. Either way, the timeline is crucial when you’re making big decisions about the future of your property. If you’re just starting to plan your next steps, you’re probably raring to know how long it takes to subdivide land in WA.
If the process of subdividing needs to be rushed or takes too long, it may cause you to lose money or crucial opportunities in the real estate market. For that reason, it’s wise to get an idea of the typical subdivision timeframe, ensuring you get maximum return on your investment.
The average turnaround time to subdivide a lot in Western Australia is 9 to 12 months. Allowing for a year in your subdivision plan gives you ample time to comply with all regulatory requirements and carry out the physical work required. However, it may take longer if you have an irregularly shaped block or plan to create lots smaller than the typical R-code zoning. If you’re planning to subdivide and build, your builder can give you a projected timeframe for the entire project.
Subdividing your land is a great investment strategy, but it can also be a complex process if you don’t have access to the right advice. If you’re able to meet all your requirements on time, it can be a financially rewarding experience, delivering higher returns and extracting monetary value from otherwise unused land.
Read on to know more about the procedures, requirements, and timeframe for subdividing land in Western Australia.
How long does it take to subdivide land in WA?
The whole process of subdividing a block from start to finish will take 9 to 12 months.
The procedure that takes the most time is dealing with the stakeholders in the subdivision process. This includes the statutory bodies that receive and process your subdivision application:
- WAPC (Western Australian Planning Commission )
- Landgate (Western Australia Land Information Authority)
- Local City Councils
The actual physical work involved in subdividing a lot usually takes 1 to 2 months.
How long does it take to process subdivision applications?
Each statutory body involved in the subdivision process has its own set of rules and works at its own pace. But the whole process – from application to having the title in your hands – takes 7 to 9 months. This includes submission of documents, clearance, and title production.
How soon do you need to complete the subdivision after approval? Developers are given a maximum of three years from the date of approval to comply with all the conditions set by their local city council. If it takes any longer than this, your approval will be null and void, and you’ll have to apply again to proceed with the work legally. This means it’s a good idea to have the entire subdivision planned out and contractors sourced before you go ahead with the application, ensuring there’s no chance you’ll miss the deadline.
What is the process for subdividing land in WA?
Before you begin with any physical work on your property, you need to secure the necessary documents.
The first step would be to fill out the relevant forms found on the WAPC website. You can also get information about the subdivision application fees there. Then, the subdivision process in WA follows these key steps:
- Make an application to the WAPC or the Western Australian Planning Commission. They are the ones tasked to approve all subdivision and strata applications.
- Your application will be referred to the concerned service agencies, which include the City Council. These agencies have 42 days to give their comments to the WAPC. The WAPC will collate all recommendations. If your application is satisfactory, you will be granted a Conditional Subdivision Approval. If not, your application will be rejected.
- The WAPC will then notify the city (and you) of their decision and the conditions, if any. You may appeal the refusal or any conditions that came with the approval.
- Make sure that you fulfill all relevant conditions of your approval. You may consult with the City Council or service agency to be sure. Your local government area will have a “Clearance of Subdivision Conditions” checklist that you can use to help you wade through the common subdivision conditions. The list varies according to region, so check your council’s website for the specifics.
- When you have complied with all conditions, the next step would be to inform the city and the relevant agencies to award you subdivision clearance. You must pay the corresponding fees at this point.
- Then, it’s time for the clearance and the endorsed Diagram or Survey Plan to be submitted to the WAPC for the much-awaited final approval. These documents will be lodged with the Western Australia Land Information Authority or Landgate for the new title production process.
- After another 2 to 4 weeks, Landgate will reward the new titles to you.
Pat yourself on the back for being so patient with all the requirements. It’s time to celebrate how far you’ve come! After securing all necessary clearances and receiving the titles, it is now time to get down and dirty.
As a developer, you’ll need to prepare the property for a dwelling – if the lot was previously part of a backyard or vacant land, it might not have the infrastructure required to be a standalone lot or appropriate ground conditions for construction. The following are common construction projects that need to be completed for subdivision:
- Driveway and access installation
- R-code compliance upgrades to retained dwellings, including painting, rendering, patio installations, landscaping, and more
- Utility contributions and upgrades
- Demolition and site clearance
- Soil compaction and remediation
- Drainage containment upgrades
- Sewerage connections and upgrades
If you’re carrying out a subdivide-and-build development, your builder can help you meet all of the requirements above and coordinate the required trades needed for subdivision work.
Who is responsible for approving subdivision applications in WA?
The subdivision process is slightly different in Western Australia than in other parts of Australia. What makes the process different in WA is that land development and subdivision applications are centralised, submitted through and approved by the WAPC or the West Australian Planning Commission.
In other parts of Australia, applications are submitted to the local councils. In WA, on the other hand, local councils are still stakeholders in the process – but the WAPC has the final say.
What do I need to do before the subdivision application?
The following are things you need to do before applying the WAPC. Addressing these questions will ensure that you are on the right track in deciding to subdivide your land.
If you’re working with an experienced subdivide-and-build builder, they can be a valuable resource even before any work takes place. Your builder can assist with feasibility studies, cost estimation, surveying and planning requirements, streamlining the process for landowners.
For your subdivision project, it pays to familiarize yourself with the WA residential design codes, also known as R-codes. This numbering system gives lot owners a general idea of how many structures or dwellings can be constructed per hectare.
For example, if you have a 1000-square metre lot, the R-code is 40 (R40). This means that you can construct a maximum of 4 dwellings on your property.
To give you an idea, here is a list of common R-codes and the average required area per dwelling:
- R15 = average 666m
- R20 = average 450m
- R25 = average 350m
- R30 = average 300m
- R40 = average 220m
- R60 = average 150m
A rule of thumb would be, the higher the R-code number in an area, the more dwellings are allowed. Also, it’s handy to know that the WAPC considers applications to increase the required minimum site area by up to five percent. It may mean an allocation for another dwelling for some developers, but it does make your application process a little more tricky.
One of the common goals in subdividing a lot is to make money. A feasibility study will give you the information you need to decide if the project is worth pursuing.
It’s always a good idea to do a thorough cost estimation upfront. This will include planning and design expenses, application fees, and the physical subdivision work performed by contractors. Factor in the forecasted revenue – whether you plan to sell the new lot or develop it – and you will get an overview of the profitability of the whole project.
It’s common in Perth to see someone in a hardhat and a vest holding a tripod and a stick, standing by a roadside or in the middle of vacant land. That person was most likely a land surveyor. He or she “surveys” the block, taking a series of precise measurements using specialised equipment.
A registered licensed surveyor will accurately survey your land. This process of establishing new lot boundaries will aid in the creation of separate land titles.
A land survey ensures there will be no possible encroachments on your property. It accurately identifies the location of property lines and corners. It also gives the exact property dimensions, which is valuable data to have in a subdivision project.
Subdivision Planning Report
This report will give you a bird’s eye view of the whole project. You can enlist the help of professionals to create your plan or opt to use an online template – just be aware that results may vary. What’s important is that your report must include the following essential information:
- The R-code of your property, showing the average and minimum site per dwelling per area that you need to maintain.
- The Town Planning Scheme for your area
- Applicable restrictions that cover your subdivision plans
- All the requirements of the WAPC and your local council
- A detailed report on power and gas plans, existing sewerage systems, and how they all relate to your property
- Requirements of Western Power and Water Corporation WA
- Expense report covering all government fees and other charges
- A comprehensive cost estimate for the entire project
- A stage-by-stage timeframe for the whole subdivision process
What is the difference between a subdivision and a strata?
A subdivision is a piece of land that was physically subdivided. Each parcel is owned by a specific party. On the other hand, a strata is when a building is divided into multiple lots. Strata lots are frequently used in multi-dwelling developments such as townhouses and apartments.
Do you pay tax on subdivided land in Australia?
Generally, if you subdivide your property and sell the new lot, the profit you’ll receive will be considered a capital gain. This profit is typically subject to Capital Gains Tax or CGT, as is all eligible income from asset sales. Consulting your financial advisor is the best way to determine the tax implications of any new investment strategy, including subdivision.