CCTV in Residential Areas

The installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras on private property by home and business owners is becoming increasingly popular. This may be done for a variety of different reasons, and there is a raft of State and Federal Legislation that you need to be aware of.

From a local government planning perspective, the concept of domestic privacy is identified as being a relevant planning concern and is regulated under the Residential Design Codes in examples like building design requirements, overlooking, setbacks and the like.

A State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) decision (Bacich and City of Cockburn [2014] WASAT), illustrates the important considerations of planning, privacy and CCTV.

In that matter, the local government had refused retrospective planning approval for an 8m high multi­function (cameras, lights and flag) pole in front of a dwelling. While the height and position were designed to enable cameras to focus on intersections at end of the street, the Tribunal held that the surveillance potential and capability of cameras would unreasonably compromise privacy of neighbouring premises.

The Tribunal found that the Residential Design Codes recognise the need to protect the privacy of habitable spaces and outdoor living areas from overlooking a neighbouring dwelling. In the case of the potential for overlooking and surveillance from cameras on a multi-function pole, the Tribunal found that there should be a similar expectation for protection of the privacy of such habitable spaces and outdoor living areas of neighbouring properties.

As the physical capability and specifications of the equipment could result in the potential for overlooking and surveillance, despite this not being an intention, the planning refusal was upheld. In that case, the resident had to remove the structure they had erected without planning approval.

Any resident thinking about installing a CCTV system should engage early with the Shire’s planning team, to enable the Shire to point you in the direction of the relevant aspects of the Residential Design Codes that need to be considered. This will also help you understand whether you are required to obtain planning approval, given in certain circumstances planning approval would not be required where a proposal complies with the deemed to comply elements of the Residential Design Codes, and does not impact on the privacy of neighbouring/surrounding properties.

You can contact the Shire's planning team by calling 9526 1111 or emailing