Laneway Policy Review

The Shire of Collie is reviewing a long-standing Local Planning Policy that applies when a landowner wishes to build a house that would gain access from a laneway.

Changes to the Policy are intended to lessen the requirements of landowners who may wish to develop their land for “infill” housing development.

This Policy aligns with the housing chapter of the Shire’s Local Planning Strategy (April 2020) and Local Planning Scheme No. 6 (December 2020), which seek to provide an adequate supply of housing to meet Collie’s future needs. This housing will be supplied via new greenfield sites at Wellington Heights, the Buckingham Estate and in the longer term the North Collie structure plan area. The Local Planning Strategy also recommended increasing the residential density in the Collie central core as follows, and this was implemented once the Local planning Scheme was approved later that year:

“R15 is the predominant residential density in the Collie Townsite. However, land surrounding the Town Centre has been zoned R30 given its proximity to the centre and to take advantage of existing laneways at the rear of lots. Some additional lots located along Bunbury Street are currently zoned R15 with two road frontages (Crampton Street) or one road frontage and rear laneway and fronting the Collie River reserve. These are recommended to be rezoned to R30 in Scheme 6 which is also consistent with the adjoining area.

 A mix of medium and low-density housing is required for a balance of choice, diversity and affordability. Having the higher residential density limited to strategic areas such as the town centre, public open space and other facilities and services will assist in achieving this whilst still maintaining the established neighbourhood character/country town feel.

 There is significant opportunity for “infill” development, thus supporting a more consolidated and compact town centre with direct access to public amenity areas, such as the district playing fields or the river. However, the extent of infill development will be market driven and dependent upon landowners’ pursuing this development opportunity.”

Public advertising of the draft Policy has now closed, having attracted a lot of community interest, including a petition with 164 signatures ‘against taking laneways’ and 132 written submissions on the Policy.

A significant majority of the written submissions seem to be based on misinterpretation of the Policy, with the most common objections summarised below:

  • People have objected to the complete closure of the laneways, as the laneways are frequently used for people to access the rear of their properties for a number of reasons
  • People have objected to the forced ceding of land (and subsequent forced changes to infrastructure on their property)
  • There’s a misinterpretation that if one neighbour were to develop/subdivide a lot, that all lots that adjoin laneways will be forced to cede land
  • People have objected as they have interpreted that they will be forced to develop/subdivide their land
  • Objections have been made as the policy has been interpreted as a ‘land grab’ by the Shire.

To assist in the public debate, including that expressed via social media, the Shire has published the following response to frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Laneways Policy FAQ

To be clear:

  • The existing policy and proposed changes only apply to owners wishing to develop their land
  • The Shire has no intention to compel owners to develop or compulsorily resume private land.

A report on public submissions and to consider the draft Policy will be presented to Council in the coming months. Further projects in the Shire of Collie are being progressed including a ‘toolkit’ for infill development and housing options paper, which will inform discussions around potential solutions to the accommodation issues currently being faced. These other projects will be debated later in the year.