Western Australian Health Act 1911 – Health Act (Laundries and Bathrooms) regulations

 

The Property Council Of Australia welcomes the opportunity to put forward changes regarding requirements in the Western Australian Health Act 1911 – Health Act (Laundries and Bathrooms) regulations. The changes focus on moving the laundry requirements for small dwellings, as required under the 2016 Health Act to the National Construction Code.    

The current requirements, which prohibit washing machines from ‘being located in a room in which food is prepared, stored, served or consumed[1], are considered archaic and inflexible while adding unnecessary costs to apartment construction. This submission specifically deals with the broader benefits and opportunities that the removal of the ‘seperation’ requirements would bring.

The Property Council Of Australia is the peak industry body for the property development and investment sectors in WA. In regards to the proposed changes, the Property Council’s members include many of the key property developers who specialize in apartment development and who bear the added cost burden that the current requirements carry.   

After receiving feedback from our members, The Property Council would like to propose that the current outdated public health provisions, specifically the restrictions on washing machines and washing tubs in kitchens, be removed from the current health Regulations. Furthermore, the property industry, under the current transition to the new Public Health Act 2016, would like to see the laundry requirements for smaller dwellings converted to the National Construction Code.

The Property Council would like to put forward to following recommendations: 

  • Move laundry requirements from the Health Act to the National Construction Code

  • Remove the ‘separation’ requirements to allow washing machines to be situated in kitchens

  • Change requirement that a washing machine requires an additional wash tub 

These changes would increase flexibility in dwelling design, improve efficient use of space in smaller dwellings and reduce unnecessary costs associated with meeting the current requirements. Furthermore, the changes would allow developers to effectively meet market demand for smaller dwellings as Perth continues to grow and continues it move to smaller houses and apartment living.

Current regulations prohibit washing machines from ‘being located in a room in which food is prepared, stored, served or consumed[2]’ unless separated by a wall or other approved partition which is at least 1.8 meters high, with any opening no more than half the width of the room or a maximum of 1.2 metres wide[3].  In addition to a ‘mechanical’ washing machine, and a wash trough of a minimum capacity of 36m3 are also required.

The National Construction Code 2016 (NCC) further requires that Class 1a buildings- predominantly private dwellings- be provided with at least one washtub (separate to a kitchen sink or washbasin) in the same room as a washing machine[4].

Currently in Perth we are seeing a significant shift to smaller houses and apartments as a result of population growth, demographic changes and lifestyle choices. As Perth continues this shift, it is critical for developers to have the flexibility to ensure that space is being utilised in the best possible way to maximise liveability and affordability. An efficient way of achieving this would be to change the current regulations to allow washing machines to be situated in kitchens.

This is a practice that already occurs around the world particularly in the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as in the Eastern States. Locating the washing machine in the kitchen provides a significant saving in space allows for better design outcomes and brings with it a cost benefit of around $1,200 per unit.

Existing under-bench space can be utilised instead of requiring a dedicated laundry room or larger bathroom, while the need for extra plumbing and water pipes is greatly reduced and less area is needed to be waterproofed. A second deep kitchen sink, with a removable cover, can then be included in the design of the kitchen which can serve as a wash tub.

The introduction of the new Public Health Bill (2016) will see a review of the regulations and by-laws which currently exist under the Health Act 1911. This represents an excellent opportunity to modernise out-dated regulations such as the restrictions on washing machines and wash tubs in kitchens.

The property industry would like to see the current regulations changed in the short term with the view to introducing new regulations as part of the longer term review process. Removing the current restrictions brings with it broader benefits which are outlined in this submission. These changes will allow developers to meet market demands while increasing liveability and affordability.

If you have any questions regarding the key issues raised in this submission, please don’t hesitate to contact the Property Council.

We look forward to continuing our dialogue regarding changes to the current health regulations surrounding restrictions on washing machines and wash tubs in kitchens.



 

[1] Section 5.2 (C) Western Australian Health Act 1911 – Health Act (Laundries and Bathrooms) regulations

[2] Section 5.2 (C) Western Australian Health Act 1911 – Health Act (Laundries and Bathrooms) regulations

[3] Section 7 Western Australian Health Act 1911 – Health Act (Laundries and Bathrooms) regulations

[4] Vol. 2, Section 3.8.3.2) and 2 (Vol. 1, Section F2.1) National Construction Code 2016