Building a granny flat will no longer require council planning approval and can be built on any sized lot, in the latest move to ease WA’s housing crisis. As long as the granny flat is not bigger than 70sqm and it meets setback requirements — such as the minimum space from the fence — homeowners won’t need to go through the lengthy planning approval process that can take months to determine if the proposal and site are suitable. A building permit from the council to ensure the construction is safe will still be required which takes a maximum of 10 business days. The State is also scrapping the minimum 350sqpm-size block requirement and most granny flats won’t require a parking bay, except for those far away from public transport. The new granny flat rules, which also allow grouped homes to have granny flats, will take effect in mid-April. Planning Minister John Carey said the reforms to the Residential Design Codes revealed on Tuesday would streamline the planning process, with granny flat rules currently differing from council to council. “Our Government continues to do everything we can to bolster the supply of housing throughout Western Australia — including through major planning reforms that cut red tape,” he said. “Granny flats can be an affordable, efficient and suitable housing option, including for rental properties and elderly family members seeking to downsize and remain in the community they love.” Mr Carey said the Cook Government had invested $2.6 billion in housing and homelessness measures since coming to power and was “leading the nation in cutting red tape”. Granny Flats WA managing director Mike Nicholls said, under the current rules, the length of time that approval processes took depended on the local government. “Building permits take as little as 10 days. But some councils require a planning application, which will take up to 90 days or more to get approved — and that’s on top of the building permit,” he said. “There are councils that are awesome like Mandurah and Rockingham. Others like Gosnells and South Perth do tend to take a lot longer.” Mr Nicholls said demand for granny flats was up about 50 per cent over the last year, with the growth driven by a lack of rentals on the market and increasing house prices. Perth’s rental vacancy rate was just 0.7 per cent at the end of last year and median house rental prices hit a record $610 in 2023. “A while ago, the predominant market for granny flats was mums and dads downsizing,” Mr Nicholls said. “But with the current rental crisis, the demand for granny flats has accelerated dramatically.” Grandmother Cecilia Holt decided to downsize after her husband died, with her daughter’s family moving into a house in Maida Vale and Ms Holt set to live in an attached granny flat. “I’m excited to be with family because I was married for 54 years and I’ve been lonely,” she said. “My daughter said ‘we all get along well together, so let’s do it, let’s build a granny flat’.” Ms Holt said that while Granny Flats WA started building as soon as they got the green light, planning approvals through the City of Kalamunda were painfully slow, taking about five months. “It took quite a while, I think they were a bit inundated. Even though I knew everything was going to be alright you always have that little bit of a doubt,” Ms Holt said. She said she was excited to move in with her family and would use the second bedroom as an arts and craft studio. The changes to the granny flat rules come as the Government finalises new Medium Density Codes that will take effect at the same time. The codes — designed to improve neighbourhoods and ensure tree canopy — were delayed after pushback from the development industry. After the delay, single homes in areas coded R40 and below will be exempt from the new standards. Anticipating pushback from advocates for more neighbourly density and preserving trees, Mr Carey said he had not taken the decision “lightly” but “must do everything I can to boost housing in Western Australia”. The revised codes are backed by the Urban Development Institute WA, with CEO Tanya Steinbeck saying “a single home on a 10.5-metre frontage with a double garage” would have been “regulated out if the amendment to the draft codes hadn’t been made”.