Changes to Setback Requirements (Local Planning Scheme Amendment No. 83)

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We’re seeking feedback on a proposed change to building setback requirements in parts of the Fremantle city centre and the West End Heritage Area. There are no changes proposed to building height requirements.

At present, the City’s Local Planning Scheme No. 4 (planning scheme) requires that all new development above the third storey must be set back ‘out of view’ from the street. We're proposing that the mandatory requirement should be removed for new applications in parts of the Fremantle city centre including the West End Heritage Area, allowing setbacks to be assessed on a case-by-case basis instead.


What is the proposed amendment?

The proposal would remove only one clause from Schedule 7 of Local Planning Scheme No. 4, under sub-section 1.3.1 (page 75). To view the proposed amendment in the scheme text, click here. It does not amend any existing height requirements and would only apply to new development applications.

Under the planning scheme any fourth storey or height above 11 metres would still have to be:

  • limited to 14 metres in total
  • consistent with the predominant height pattern of adjoining properties and the locality, and
  • consistent with any other matters in Council’s local planning policies, including the recently adopted West End Heritage Area Local Planning Policy


Why is this amendment being proposed?

In 2019-20 the City undertook work to develop a new local planning policy (LPP 3.21) for the West End Heritage Area, which has now been adopted. Removing the mandatory setback requirement was considered as part of this work, with some key reasons being:

  • There may be times where a reduced setback results in a better heritage outcome. Removing the mandatory requirement provides more flexibility to consider this.
  • Setbacks are not consistent with the traditional building form.
  • The mandatory setback requirement was originally introduced to reduce the visual impact of upper storeys. The requirement hasn’t always been successful, and we now believe there are better ways to encourage good design under updated policies.

Composite image showing a more contemporary building with the fourth floor setback (left) and a more traditional building that is setback nil to the street (right). Traditional buildings on High Street are set back ‘nil’ to the street on all levels, contributing to the precinct’s unique heritage character.Image 1: On the left, an example of a building with a mandatory fourth-floor setback. On the right, an example of how the traditional built form is setback 'nil' to the street on all levels.


Where would the change apply to?

This change would apply to an area known as sub-Area 1.3.1 shown in the map below (click to open). This includes the West End Heritage Area and much of the city centre.



What we've heard so far

In 2020 we asked the community for feedback on the draft West End Heritage Area Policy and preliminary input on the idea of removing the mandatory setback requirement from the planning scheme. The feedback was mixed:

  • Some respondents supported the proposed change, reasoning that each application should be considered individually on its merits, and that design should remain sympathetic to the area.
  • Others didn't support the proposed change or wanted things to 'remain as they are'. Reasons for this included a belief that without guaranteed good design, additions would be better off without street frontage. Other reasons included that it could contribute to bulk in the area and that mandatory setbacks help ensure that heritage features dominate the area.
  • There was some confusion over the scope of the amendment, with some people interpreting it as a change to building height allowances – this is not the case.

The amendment has been initiated by Council and we're now seeking feedback as part of the formal amendment process.


Share your thoughts below before Wednesday 26 May 2021. You can also post a submission to the City of Fremantle, PO Box 807 Fremantle WA 6959, or contact us for further information.


We’re seeking feedback on a proposed change to building setback requirements in parts of the Fremantle city centre and the West End Heritage Area. There are no changes proposed to building height requirements.

At present, the City’s Local Planning Scheme No. 4 (planning scheme) requires that all new development above the third storey must be set back ‘out of view’ from the street. We're proposing that the mandatory requirement should be removed for new applications in parts of the Fremantle city centre including the West End Heritage Area, allowing setbacks to be assessed on a case-by-case basis instead.


What is the proposed amendment?

The proposal would remove only one clause from Schedule 7 of Local Planning Scheme No. 4, under sub-section 1.3.1 (page 75). To view the proposed amendment in the scheme text, click here. It does not amend any existing height requirements and would only apply to new development applications.

Under the planning scheme any fourth storey or height above 11 metres would still have to be:

  • limited to 14 metres in total
  • consistent with the predominant height pattern of adjoining properties and the locality, and
  • consistent with any other matters in Council’s local planning policies, including the recently adopted West End Heritage Area Local Planning Policy


Why is this amendment being proposed?

In 2019-20 the City undertook work to develop a new local planning policy (LPP 3.21) for the West End Heritage Area, which has now been adopted. Removing the mandatory setback requirement was considered as part of this work, with some key reasons being:

  • There may be times where a reduced setback results in a better heritage outcome. Removing the mandatory requirement provides more flexibility to consider this.
  • Setbacks are not consistent with the traditional building form.
  • The mandatory setback requirement was originally introduced to reduce the visual impact of upper storeys. The requirement hasn’t always been successful, and we now believe there are better ways to encourage good design under updated policies.

Composite image showing a more contemporary building with the fourth floor setback (left) and a more traditional building that is setback nil to the street (right). Traditional buildings on High Street are set back ‘nil’ to the street on all levels, contributing to the precinct’s unique heritage character.Image 1: On the left, an example of a building with a mandatory fourth-floor setback. On the right, an example of how the traditional built form is setback 'nil' to the street on all levels.


Where would the change apply to?

This change would apply to an area known as sub-Area 1.3.1 shown in the map below (click to open). This includes the West End Heritage Area and much of the city centre.



What we've heard so far

In 2020 we asked the community for feedback on the draft West End Heritage Area Policy and preliminary input on the idea of removing the mandatory setback requirement from the planning scheme. The feedback was mixed:

  • Some respondents supported the proposed change, reasoning that each application should be considered individually on its merits, and that design should remain sympathetic to the area.
  • Others didn't support the proposed change or wanted things to 'remain as they are'. Reasons for this included a belief that without guaranteed good design, additions would be better off without street frontage. Other reasons included that it could contribute to bulk in the area and that mandatory setbacks help ensure that heritage features dominate the area.
  • There was some confusion over the scope of the amendment, with some people interpreting it as a change to building height allowances – this is not the case.

The amendment has been initiated by Council and we're now seeking feedback as part of the formal amendment process.


Share your thoughts below before Wednesday 26 May 2021. You can also post a submission to the City of Fremantle, PO Box 807 Fremantle WA 6959, or contact us for further information.


  • CLOSED: Submissions have now closed.

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