Small housing

Freo Alternative

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.

At the end of 2016, the City of Fremantle asked the community to think big about small housing and alternatives to infill housing. Community members were generous with their time and ideas, and established eight themes to carry forward when thinking about smaller housing.

Stage Two of the Freo Alternative explored how the eight themes can be realised through planning policy. A scheme amendment and local planning policy were advertised for community comment at the end of 2017.

On 28 March 2018 the City of Fremantle Council gave its final approval to the ‘Freo Alternative - Big Thinking about Small Housing’ by voting to support the City’s Local Planning Scheme and accompanying new planning policy. The proposed changes aim to stimulate development of a wider choice of housing in Fremantle’s suburban areas while still maintaining what people value about their neighbourhoods.

The proposed changes are now with the Minister for Planning for final determination. If approved by the WA State Government, the Freo Alternative will be a ground-breaking new approach to infill housing in suburban areas. It will provide an alternative option to landowners, without impacting or changing the current zoning or density. This means current development opportunities would still apply to landowners even if the Freo Alternative is gazetted. The Freo Alternative will be an alternative for landowners to consider when developing their land.

The Freo Alternative provisions would apply in specific sections of White Gum Valley, Samson, 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, and include solar panels, rainwater tanks, grey water systems or meet best practice accessibility standards.
  • 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 large tree to be retained or planted.
  • A maximum of one parking bay per dwelling.
  • Developments to be referred to the City’s Design Advisory Committee to consider design quality.

For more information please see the City's My Say Freo website: Freo Alternative.

Ancillary dwellings ['granny flat']

An ancillary dwelling is a small self-contained accommodation on the same lot as, and usually detached from, the primary house. Ancillary dwellings are commonly referred to as granny flats.

The Residential Design 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 maybe required for such a development. Please be aware that if a lot includes common property it is not considered to be a 'Single house', and therefore an ancillary dwelling on the lot is not permitted.

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 is considered to be development that does not require planning approval then only a building permit is required.

If an ancillary dwelling is considered to be development that requires planning approval then planning approval and a building permit are required.

Can an existing building be converted into an ancillary dwelling?

Yes potentially. There are no restrictions on materials or type of construction for an ancillary dwelling. However a converted building would still be required to meet the relevant Building Act 2011 and health legislation requirements.

For further information on the building and health requirements or any other requirements of ancillary dwellings please make an appointment with a Planning Officer on 08 9432 9999 or email

Contact us

Planning services
City of Fremantle
Fremantle Oval
70 Parry Street, Fremantle
T 08 9432 9999
F 08 9430 4634