Freo Alternative

Freo Alternative

The Freo Alternative is a ground-breaking new approach to infill housing in suburban areas. It provides an alternative option to landowners in certain areas of the City of Fremantle, without impacting or changing the current zoning or density.

What is the background?

The WA State Government has set density targets across the metropolitan area to cater for population growth and limit urban sprawl. However, poorly planned or inappropriate infill developments are often unacceptable to local residents and may not meet the housing needs of the community.

With this in mind, the City of Fremantle asked the community in 2016 to ‘think big about small housing’ and alternatives to traditional infill dwellings. Community members were generous with their time and ideas, and established eight themes to carry forward when thinking about smaller housing. A Local Planning Scheme amendment (Amendment No. 63) and local planning policy were advertised for community comment at the end of 2017 based on these themes.

On 28 March 2018 the City of Fremantle Council gave its approval to the ‘Freo Alternative’ scheme amendment and accompanying planning policy. The scheme amendment was subsequently forwarded to the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) for final assessment and a decision from the Minister for Planning and Transport. On 12 February 2019, the ‘Freo Alternative’ amendment was published in the Government Gazette, soon after being signed off by the Minister.

What are the planning requirements?

The Freo Alternative provisions apply in specific sections of White Gum Valley, Hilton, O'Connor, Beaconsfield and Fremantle. In general, the provisions include:

• Only applies to lots larger than 600 square metres.
• New dwelling(s) to have a maximum floor area of 120 square metres.
• Maximum of three dwellings on lots of 750 square metres or less.
• Minimum of 30 square metres of outdoor living area per dwelling.
• Developments to have higher than standard energy efficiency ratings.
• 70 per cent of the entire development site to be open space, with some variation allowed to 60 per cent open space.
• At least one mature tree to be retained or planted.
• A maximum of one parking bay per dwelling.
• All developments to be referred to the City’s Design Advisory Committee to consider design quality.

A 5 year sunset clause applies to Freo Alternative provisions in the planning scheme, meaning they will no longer form part of the City's planning scheme after 12 February 2024.

Where can I find further information?

For more information, please download an information flyer or see the City's My Say Freo website: Freo Alternative

Ancillary dwellings (granny flat)

Aside from Freo Alternative, an ancillary dwelling (granny flat) is another type of alternative/small housing that is available to a number of residential property owners within the City. They are a small self-contained accommodation on the same lot as the primary house. Ancillary dwellings are commonly referred to as ‘granny flats’.

The Residential Design Codes of WA (R-Codes) allow for one ancillary dwelling to be provided for on a given single house lot, subject to specific criteria being met, with no occupancy restrictions. Planning approval may be required for such a development. It is important to note that if a site includes common property it is not considered to be a 'Single house', rather it is defined as a ‘Grouped Dwelling’ (e.g. a town house), and consequently an ancillary dwelling on the lot is not permitted under the R-Codes.

For more information on ancillary dwellings please see the Western Australian Planning Commission's Residential Design Codes.

What other approvals would be needed?

If an ancillary dwelling proposal qualifies as a development that does not require planning approval, then only a building permit is required. Generally speaking, this would mean that a development proposal would need to comply with the R-Codes as well as any relevant City of Fremantle local planning policy to be considered exempt from requiring planning approval. There are also additional requirements for development on properties in Heritage Areas and those which are included on the City’s Heritage List. Please speak with the City’s Planning Services team who can provide further information on planning approval requirements.

Otherwise, if an ancillary dwelling proposal is not exempt from the requirement to obtain a planning approval, then planning approval and a Building Permit are required. Information in relation to Building Permits can be obtained by contacting the City’s Building Services department.

Can an existing building be converted into an ancillary dwelling?

Yes, potentially. In general, there are no specific restrictions on materials or type of construction for an ancillary dwelling. However, a converted building would still be required to meet the relevant Australian Standards, Building Act 2011 and other health legislation requirements.

For further information on the planning requirements of ancillary dwellings, you can contact the Duty Planner on 1300 693 736 or email

Contact us

Planning Services
City of Fremantle
Fremantle Oval
70 Parry Street, Fremantle
T 1300 693 736
F 08 9430 4634