Appendix 2 – key State Government planning instruments relating to public open space

Public open space strategy guide for local governments.

This section identifies a number of key policy documents that relate more specifically to public open space. This should not be taken as an exhaustive list and familiarisation with all State planning policy is recommended. However, attention is drawn to those documents that offer more detail with regard to public open space.


Section 152 of the Planning and Development Act 2005 (the Act) requires land shown on a plan of subdivision as public recreation to be given up free of cost by the subdivider and vested in the Crown as a Reserve for Recreation. S.153 to 156 of the Act provide provisions relating to cash-in-lieu of public open space when subdivision occurs.

In Schedule 7 of the Act, reservation of land is identified as a matter which may be dealt with by a planning scheme and allows a planning scheme to set development standards, including open space. It also identifies matters for which local laws may be made by Governor. This includes the purchase and reservation of land; and limiting of public open spaces, recreation grounds, or sites for public buildings by purchase agreement between owners of lands and the local government.

The Planning and Development Regulations 2009 specifies matters to be considered on application for subdivision, which includes the amount of public open space.

The Town Planning Regulations 1967 do not mention public open space. S. 9.2 of Appendix B Model Scheme Text (MST) states that accompanying material for an application for planning approval should include the nature and extent of open space on the site, however, this is not public open space.

The Draft Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2014 are similar to the MST, in that S. 40 refers to the need for planning applications to show the open space on the site. In addition, Part 7, S.34 of the draft regulations demonstrates how the legend in a local planning scheme should represent public open space land; S.54 mentions public open in terms of implementation of Development Contribution Plans and S.63 (also referring to Development Contribution Plans) explains that infrastructure includes land for public open space.

Other legislation includes the Perry Lakes Redevelopment Act 2005 where S. 27.(3)(c) requires 15% public open space to be ceded to the State at subdivision (specifically located); and similarly the Port Kennedy Redevelopment Act 1992 where S. 8. Requires public open space and beach reserve as delineated on the subdivision plan are to be taken as reserved and vested in the City of Rockingham under Part III of the Land Act as Public Recreation and Class “C” Reserve.

In addition it is important to consider the implications of the Land Administration Act 1997 particularly on the creation and vesting of POS reserves. This is covered in the Crown Land Administration and Registration Practice Manual (1013).

Region schemes 

There are three region schemes in operation within WA:

  1. Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS)
  2. Peel Region Scheme (PRS)
  3. Greater Bunbury Region Scheme.

A region scheme assists strategic planning, the coordination of major infrastructure and sets aside areas for regional open space and other community purposes. These statutory planning instruments usually cover more than one local government area and set out zoning, reserves and development provisions that each local government's local planning scheme must reflect.

Of particular relevance to public open space, parks and recreation/regional open space reserves are allocated on a district and regional scale are allocated together with reserves for state forests, waterways and some public purposes reserves. Other reserves may also have a relationship to open space, such as private recreation.

Smaller local public open spaces are generally not given specific allocation within a region scheme and are usually shown as part of an urban zoning under a region scheme.

State planning policy and guidelines

Development Control 2.3 – Public Open Space in Residential Areas

The most influential and well-known planning requirement relating to provision of public open space comes from the Western Australian Planning Commission operational policy known as Development Control Policy 2.3 – Public Open Space in Residential Areas (DC 2.3).

Based on the recommendations of the Plan for the Metropolitan Region Perth and Fremantle, 1955 Report (the Stephenson-Hepburn Plan), DC 2.3 generally requires 10 percent of the gross subdivisible area16 of a conditional subdivision to be given up free of cost by the subdivider for public open space and vested in the Crown as a Reserve for Recreation (in accordance with S. 152 of the Act). In special circumstances, the Western Australian Planning Commission may require land to be transferred to a local government in fee simple.

DC 2.3 recognises that in some circumstances, cash-in-lieu of land for open space (as provided by S.153 - 156 of the Act) should be encouraged where:

  • A 10 percent land contribution is too small to be of practical use; There may be sufficient public open space already in the locality;
  • Public open space is planned in another location by way of a local planning scheme or local structure plan.

Money received as cash–in-lieu of open space can only be used to purchase land for parks, recreation grounds or open spaces generally in the locality of the subdivision; to repay loans raised for the purchase of such land; or for improvement or development of parks, recreation grounds or open spaces generally in the location of the subdivision (with the approval of the Minister for Planning).

DC 2.3 also specifies what is expected to be given up as recreation reserve and limitations on its use for public utilities. For example, the policy requires areas around margins of wetlands, watercourses and foreshores adjacent to residential development to be protected and conserved at the time of subdivision by being created as reserves for recreation or foreshore management.

In some instances where a proposed subdivision includes land designated as a parks and recreation reserve under a regional planning scheme,  the land may be included in the subdivider's 10 percent public open space contribution if demonstrated that it can be used for an appropriate local (as well as a regional) purpose.  This public open space contribution would either be vested in the Crown free of cost as a reserve for the purpose of recreation, or transferred to the commission in fee simple. The subdivider may be required to provide a management plan to demonstrates that the land can be used for an appropriate local (as well as a regional) purpose and may require the local government's agreement to accept responsibility for management of the land.

In addition, DC 2.3 does not accept as open space land which is occupied by public utility uses such as drainage sumps. However, there may be instances where whole or partial credit may be given when public drainage and utility services are located, designed and landscaped to ensure public use of the open space for safe, passive and/or active recreation and amenity is not impaired.

DC 2.3 allows for the possible reduction of the 10 percent public open space land contribution provided an equivalent area of land is made available free of cost to the local government as a community facilities site.

The background notes to this policy state that DC 2.3 is subject to comprehensive review. The Western Australian Planning Commission is aware of continuing debate about the validity of certain aspects of this policy in the light of such matters as restraints on local government expenditure (with consequent limiting effects upon its ability to develop and maintain open space), the need to ensure adequate open space in existing urban areas, and the balance between passive and active recreational areas. 

Draft Liveable Neighbourhoods 2015

The Western Australian Planning Commission's Liveable Neighbourhoods Policy is currently under review (LN 2015) and being advertised for public comment. Once the 2015  policy is finalised, DC 2.3 and the related Structure Plan Preparation Guidelines, will be modified accordingly also taking into consideration the context of other related Western Australian Planning Commission's currently under, or recently completed, a review process.

Liveable Neighbourhoods 2015 is a performance-based policy that sets high level objectives, design principles and requirements to address both strategic and operational aspects of structure planning and subdivision. It is based on six interrelated design elements, one of these being Element 5 Public Open Space. All of the remaining design elements, however, have a relationship with public open space and also need to be considered (community design, movement network, activity centres, lot design and education).

One of the principal objectives of Liveable Neighbourhoods 2015 is to:

Plan for public open space that meets the recreational, social and health needs of existing and future communities.

  • Coordinate the design and delivery of an integrated network of public open space that provides communities with access to nature, sport and recreation.
  • Optimise the siting and design of public open space to promote accessible and efficient use of land.
  • Ensure that education sites are developable, serviceable and accessible promoting safe, adaptable and efficient use of land and other community infrastructure including public open space. 

Liveable Neighbourhoods 2015 advocates for the local government to guide the Western Australian Planning Commission on matters relating to the size, distribution, function, landscape design and park management arrangements which must be considered and assessed in the early stages of local structure plan preparation. In doing so, Liveable Neighbourhoods 2015 stresses the importance of a public open space strategy (independently or in combination with a local planning strategy or other strategic local government documents) to guide proponents to assist delivery of the most appropriate public public open space for the community.

Liveable Neighbourhoods 2015 sets out a public open space size hierarchy and function based on the Classification Framework for Public Open Space (Department of Sport and Recreation 2012) to facilitate consistent terminology and enable comparative assessments of open space provision and function.

A balance between native vegetation retention and for water sensitive urban design is advocated alongside the provision of functional public open space for sport, nature and recreation.

Liveable Neighbourhoods 2015 provides requirements relating to public open space provision. A minimum contribution of 10% of the gross subdivisible area is required to be given up by the subdivider for public open space distributed in such a way to ensure that all residential lots are within 300m of a public open space site and within the catchment of sites providing access to sport, recreation and nature opportunities.

The use of smaller parks close to or within centres and locating larger parks nearer to the edges of neighbourhoods via a public open space network is advocated to maximise use and access by local residents and the wider community.

A public open space schedule, function schedule and plan are required with structure plans and subdivision applications, to demonstrate public open space provision. See LN for further information including  public open space contribution within ‘mixed use’ zones, public open space contribution in regional areas, matters relating to transfer of land and use of cash-in-lieu funds, situations where credit can and cannot be given in calculation of the 10% gross subdivisible area and matter relating to restricted use public open space.

In relation to development of public open space, Liveable Neighbourhoods 2015 requirements address such matters as surveillance, urban water management and proponents’ maintenance responsibilities. Detailed matters relating to development of public open space are the responsibility of the local government. 

Element 6 of Liveable Neighbourhoods 2015 relates to education. Shared ovals with school sites are encouraged to improve land efficiency and allow the reduction of school site area, subject to certain criteria.

Where a school site is co-located with public open space, Liveable Neighbourhoods 2015 states that the public open space is to be designed and managed to enable use by the school and the public outside of school hours. The essential facilities for the functioning of the public open space are to be fully incorporated on a separate adjoining open space lot or Crown reserve. Junior and/or senior size sport ovals are to be co-located in the first instance with school sites.

Structure Plan Preparation Guidelines (2012)

Recently revised as part of the Western Australian Planning Commission's Planning Makes it Happen Phase one planning reform initiatives, the Structure Plan Preparation Guidelines provide guidance in the preparation and assessment of structure plans by standardising the scope, format and content of structure plans; defining the statutory and non-statutory element of structure plans; detailing the information required to be provided for each type of structure plan; and encouraging pre-lodgement consultation.

Structure plans provide a framework for the coordinated provision and arrangement of future land use, subdivision and development including the provision of transport networks; public open space; utility and service networks; urban water management; development standards; and community infrastructure and other investment and staging programs.

Structure plans assist landowners, landowner’s representatives, decision making authorities, advisory agencies and local government to identify the specific issues and actions required to progress the land through the required planning and development processes. They provide an opportunity to address and resolve broader, more strategic planning issues ahead of detailed planning in respect to subdivision and development, allowing for more efficient assessment and approval processes.

The guidelines provide a hierarchy of structure plans and outline the general content to be provided within each . The different types of structure plans include:

  • Sub-regional – highest level strategic plans prepared by Western Australian Planning Commission)
  • District – predominantly strategic plans applying to areas of land generally greater than 300 hectares
  • Local – (generally) statutory plans applying to areas of land generally 20-300 hectares
  • Activity Centre – statutory plans for metropolitan, secondary, district or specialised centres
  • Combined structure plan – for certain land development where all layers of information for each type of structure plan within the hierarchy is not required (for example a combined district and local structure plan for land without significant environmental or land use servicing constraints where it comprises of a greenfield site held in single or limited land ownership; several large and cooperatively planned land holdings; or rural areas or special rural residential areas).

These guidelines are closely related to LN and may be impacted by the review of that operational policy. The proposed Regulations will outline the circumstances under which a structure plan is required and the statutory procedures required for its approval, including the transitional provisions for structure plans that are already approved and operational. It is also noted that phase two of the Planning Makes it Happen reform initiatives includes (as a medium term action) the review of these guidelines to simplify structure plan content.

Development Control 3.4 – Subdivision of Rural Land

Development Control Policy 3.4 – Subdivision of Rural Land  has no requirement for provision of public open space. This policy, however, allows for creation of a lot to facilitate the conservation of a heritage building or place provided that (amongst other things) the building, object or place is listed in the State Register of Heritage Places, the Aboriginal Sites Register, the Heritage List in the local planning scheme, or has been assessed by a recognised heritage consultant as warranting heritage protection.

The policy also allows for conservation lots to be created to conserve significant environmental features and remnant vegetation. Such lots are subject to a conservation covenant in perpetuity with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the National Trust of Australia (WA) or an alternative authority acceptable to the Western Australian Planning Commission is registered on the certificate of title as a condition of subdivision for the proposed conservation lot. The covenant includes provisions relating to clearing, building, stock, bush fire risk and use of the balance of the land. The conservation lot is to be appropriately zoned within the local planning scheme by the local government in a future omnibus amendment or when the scheme is reviewed.

Development Control Policy 4.1 – Industrial Land Subdivision

Development Control Policy 4.1 – Industrial Land Subdivision has no general requirement for the provision of public open space in industrial areas. The Western Australian Planning Commission may, in special circumstances however, require land to be given up free of cost where necessary to ensure that adequate facilities are available for both passive and active recreation during workers leisure periods. Considerations would include the size of workforce in the area, the proximity of existing public open space and the scale of new development being proposed.

In addition, under the policy land may be required to be given up as public open space in an industrial subdivision to provide for buffer strips and/or suitable planted areas between industrial uses and any adjacent non industrial areas.

State Planning Policy 3.6 Developer Contributions for Infrastructure

State Planning Policy 3.6 – Developer Contributions for Infrastructure (SPP 3.6) sets out development contribution provisions for standard infrastructure items applied by the WAPC on the subdivision, strata subdivision, or development of land; and provides a system for local governments to plan and charge for community infrastructure items which are not included in the standard provisions through development contribution plans.

Amongst other things, objectives include to promote the efficient and effective provision of public infrastructure and facilities to meet the demands arising from new growth and development; and to ensure the social well-being of communities arising from, or affected by, development.

Development contributions can be sought for standard items of infrastructure such as public open space as well as roads, water and sewerage facilities, utilities and other items that are listed in appendix 1 to State Planning Policy 3.6.

State Planning Policy 3.6, in certain circumstances, also allows for development contributions for infrastructure that does not fall within the standard requirements or community infrastructure. Contributions may be sought if they have been identified in a development contribution plan which has been incorporated into a local planning scheme, or otherwise through voluntary agreement with the relevant developer/s. Community infrastructure involves the structures and facilities which help communities and neighbourhoods to function effectively and includes sporting and recreational facilities; community centres; child care and after school centres; libraries and cultural facilities; and such other services and facilities for which development contributions may reasonably be requested.

Development contributions can be sought for a new item of infrastructure; land for infrastructure; an upgrade in the standard of provision of an existing item of infrastructure; an extension to existing infrastructure; the total replacement of infrastructure once it has reached the end of its economic life; other costs reasonably associated with the preparation, implementation and administration of a development contribution plan.

Development Control Policy 5.3 Use of Land Reserved for Parks and Recreation and Open Space

Under the provisions of the three region schemes, approval of the Western Australian Planning Commission is required for development of reserved land. Land reserved for parks and recreation/regional open space is either Crown land vested in a public authority, owned by the Western Australian Planning Commission or owned privately.

This policy allows use of land reserved for parks and recreation or regional public space for the following:

  • passive recreation
  • active sporting pursuits
  • cultural and or community activities
  • activities promoting community education of the environment
  • uses that are compatible with and or support the amenity of the reservation (i.e. café, restaurant).

Development Control Policy 5.3 outlines application procedures and restricts use of reserved land to:

  • incorporated sporting clubs and/or community groups which have a constitution which does not restrict membership; provide public access to sporting facilities; include provision for finance and membership of club/organisation; and includes wind up provisions for the club
  • private businesses which are in accordance with a management plan endorsed by the WAPC; are open to and provide services for the public
  • have a purpose that is ancillary and incidental to the primary purpose of the reservation.

It is generally required that Western Australian Planning Commission-owned land to be used by sporting clubs and community groups will be leased to the relevant local government with the power to sub-lease. In certain circumstances, this may also include sub-lease to private businesses. No further sub-letting is permitted without prior approval of the local government and Western Australian Planning Commission.

The policy also outlines the development, financing, servicing, insurance and security and maintenance responsibilities of sporting clubs, organisations and local governments. It also refers to the need to comply with the Liquor Control Act and local government requirements in relation to general running of the facility and social functions and recommends the inclusion of relevant conditions in any lease agreement between the local government, club, organisation or business.

Other Western Australian Planning Commission policies and guidelines

Whilst a number of State planning mechanisms more specific to public open space have been presented, others that may have influence on public open space for some local governments include a number of environmental and urban design and development based policies and guidelines such as (but not limited to) the following:

Environmental basedUrban design and development based policies 
Structure Plan Preparation (SPP) 2 - Environment and Natural Resources and the supplementary:
  • SPP 2.1 – Peel-Harvey Coastal Plain Catchment Policy
  • SPP 2.2 – Gnangara Groundwater Protection Policy
  • SPP 2.3 – Jandakot Groundwater Control Policy and Draft SPP 2.3 – Jandakot Groundwater Protection
  • SPP 2.6 – State Coastal Planning Policy
  • SPP 2.7 – Public Drinking Water Source Policy
  • SPP 2.8 – Bushland Policy for the Perth Metropolitan Region
  • SPP 2.9 – Water Resources
  • SPP 2.10 – Swan-Canning River System

SPP 6.1 – Leeuwin Naturalist Ridge Policy
SPP 6.3 – Ningaloo Coast
Tourism Planning Guidelines
State Coastal Planning Policy Guidelines
Better Urban Water Management
Visual Landscape Planning in Western Australia
Coastal Planning and Management Manual

 Structure Plan Preparation (SPP) 3 – Urban Growth Settlement and the supplementary:
  • SPP 3.1 – Residential Design Codes

SPP 3.7 - Planning for Bushfire Management (draft).
SPP 4.1 – State Industrial Buffer
SPP 4.2 – Activity Centres for Perth and Peel
SPP 5.3 – Jandakot Airport Vicinity
Development Control Policy 5.4 – Advertising on Reserved Land
Designing Out Crime Guidelines
Planning for Bush Fire  Protection (Edition 2)


Useful links

Strategic planning

Directions 2031 and Beyond

The Western Australian Planning Commission initially developed Directions 2031 and Beyond to provide a development framework for the future development of the Perth Peel Region. Directions 2031 recognised the benefits of a more consolidated city while working from historic patterns of urban growth. It set achievable goals that would promote housing affordability over the longer term. Directions 2031 addressed urban growth needs and also took into consideration the need to protect the natural ecosystems.

The framework provided for different lifestyle choices, vibrant nodes for economic and social activity and a more sustainable urban transport network. The framework also encouraged a long-term approach to the provision of  infrastructure in an economically sustainable way.

Perth/Peel @ 3.5 Million

The Western Australian Planning Commission has built on the framework outlined in Directions 2031 and Beyond to develop the draft Perth and Peel@3.5 million suite of documents that clearly spell out:

  • where future homes and jobs should be located
  • how we can protect important environmental assets
  • how we can best utilise existing and proposed infrastructure and
  • appropriate areas for greater infill development and residential density.

The Draft Perth and Peel @ 3.5 million was released by the WAPC in May 2015 for public comment. It comprises of an overall strategy report together with four draft sub-regional planning frameworks (North-West, North-East, South Metropolitan Peel and Central).

The four draft sub-regional planning frameworks provide detailed land use strategies and actions required to develop Perth and Peel regions as a connected city (identified as the most appropriate growth pattern in Directions 2031 and Beyond) based on an estimated population of 3.5 million by the year 2050. The frameworks are informed by the Strategic Environmental Assessment for Perth and Peel (due for completion in 2016) and are intended to be finalised as sub-regional structure plans.

The overall draft framework’s overarching objectives with relevance to public open space include:

  • Consolidated urban form

    To create sustainable communities that are attractive places to live and work. The consolidation of urban areas will provide for more efficient use of urban land and infrastructure with improved access to public transport, recreation, community and commercial facilities while avoiding impacting upon significant environmental attributes.

  • Community and social infrastructure

    To provide a wide range of community and social infrastructure to enhance the health and wellbeing of the community and meet the community’s needs including health, education and recreation, while promoting co-location and optimising the use of existing facilities and infrastructure to reduce traffic movement and establish a sense of social cohesion.

  • Environment and landscape

    To preserve and enhance the existing environmental and landscape values of the sub-regions for future generations to enjoy.

  • Natural resources

    To manage the availability and use of natural resources to ensure existing and potential uses can be balanced against broader environmental outcomes.

In relation to environment and landscapes, where appropriate the draft sub-regional strategies (amongst other things) address matters concerning regional open space, urban forests, climate change, bushfire management and water resources which have implications for public open space. With regard to social infrastructure, the draft sub-regional strategies identify existing regional and district sport and recreation sites as well as identify the need for further regional and district facilities according to future growth.

Page reviewed 05 December 2023