Do I need development approval to keep horses?

Yes. Generally the only time development approval is not required is for lots zoned ‘Rural’ where no works are proposed.  This is a relatively limited circumstance however.

The Shire’s Town Planning Scheme No.2 (TPS2) lists the following zones where the keeping of horses can generally be considered through the development application process:

  • ‘Special Rural’;
  • ‘Rural Living A’ (exceptions apply);
  • ‘Rural Living B’ (some conditions apply e.g. lots 1ha and above);
  • ‘Farmlet’ (some conditions apply e.g. maximum of 2 horses);
  • ‘Rural Groundwater Protection’;
  • ‘Special Residential’ (except Chestnuts Estate) (conditions apply);
  • ‘Special Use’ (Particular lots on Old Dairy Court only); and
  • ‘Urban Development’.

Please note there are some areas within these zones where the keeping of horses is prohibited.

Am I permitted to keep horses?

When considering the keeping of horses within the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale it is critical to carefully consider the Shire’s Local Planning Scheme.

A local planning scheme is a legal document that sets out how land can be used and developed. It contains information about how infrastructure and development will occur in the area. 

In order to determine the types of development of land use that are permitted across the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale, the Shire’s Town Planning Scheme No. 2 (TPS2) is utilised.

TPS2 outlines which areas are permitted to include specific types of developments, including equine related developments.

In June 2020 the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale Council supported the Draft Local Planning Scheme No. 3 (LPS3) at a Special Council Meeting.

LPS3 is currently being reviewed by the Western Australian Planning Commission and as such the Shire is in the process of transitioning from TPS2 to LPS3.

Town Planning Scheme No. 2

The keeping of horses on properties within the Shire is currently guided by the Shire’s Town Planning Scheme No.2 (TPS2). Properties are designated a particular zone under TPS2, in which different land uses can be considered. There are three land uses under TPS2 that the keeping of horses could fall within. These are detailed as follows:

Equestrian Activity

The Equestrian Activity land use relates to larger commercial equine operations, including show, competition or training grounds and riding schools. This land use is ‘AA’ or discretionary within the ‘Rural’ zone and so can be considered subject to an application for development approval. It is also ‘SA’ or discretionary subject to advertising within the ‘Special Rural’ zone and so can also be considered in those properties subject to an application for development approval along with a neighbour referral process.

Rural Use

The Rural Use is a broad land use that captures the agistment and keeping of horses where there is no housing of horses. This land use is ‘P’ or permitted within the ‘Rural’ zone and so would not require an application for development approval. It is also ‘SA’ or discretionary, being subject to advertising, within the ‘Special Residential’ zone and ‘AA’ or discretionary within the ‘Special Rural’ zone. Predominantly, a Rural Use proposal is also ‘AA’ or discretionary within the ‘Farmlet’, ‘Rural Living A’ and ‘Rural Living B’ zone, which can also be applied for in an application for development approval.


The Stable land use relates to where land or buildings are used to house, keep, stable and feed horses. This land use is ‘P’ or permitted within the ‘Rural’ zone and so may not require an application for development approval should the works component of the proposal. Predominantly, a Rural Use proposal is also ‘AA’ or discretionary within the ‘Farmlet’, ‘Rural Living A’ and ‘Rural Living B’ zone, which can also be applied for in an application for development approval.

As an aside it is noted that there are some ‘Rural Living A’ or ‘Special Rural’ zoned areas in which there is no discretion available to consider applications for the keeping of horses. Specific details about an area can be queried with a Shire Planning Officer.

Generally, the only time development approval is not required is for lots zoned ‘Rural’ where no works are proposed. However, this is a relatively limited circumstance.

Local Planning Scheme No. 3

As the Shire is currently transitioning from TPS2 to the new draft Local Planning Scheme No.3 (LPS3). While still subject to change/final approval, the keeping of horses within draft LPS3 would generally fall within the following two land uses:

Animal Establishment

The Animal Establishment land use relates primarily to instances where premises are used for the breeding, boarding, agistment or training of horses, where it is for a commercial purpose. This land use is ‘D’ or discretionary within the ‘Rural Smallholding’ and ‘Rural’ zones, as well as it being ‘A’ or discretionary subject to advertising within the ‘Rural Enterprise’ zone. Where the land use is discretionary it can be considered in an application for development approval.

Rural Pursuit/Hobby Farm

This land use relates to the rearing, agistment, stabling or training of horses, in this instance this is for privately owned horses. This land use is ‘P’ or permitted within the ‘Rural Smallholding’, ‘Rural’ and ‘Rural Enterprise’ zone. Therefore, approval may not be required should any proposed works components, such as a stable structure, comply with the relevant standards. The use is also ‘D’ or discretionary within the ‘Rural Residential’ zone, which means it can be considered in this area subject to an application for development approval.

What is required as part of a development application?

development application should include the following:

  • A Development Application Form;
  • A copy of the Certificate of Title;
  • A Site Plan;
  • Elevations of any proposed buildings/structures; and
  • An Equine Management Plan, that should address the following:
    • Number and size of stock;
    • Stabling and paddock regime including irrigation;
    • Protection of existing vegetation and any proposed re-vegetation;
    • Management of drains, waterways and wetlands; and
    • Management of waste and dust.

Please note: Development applications for the keeping of horses will incur a fee of $147 for proposals worth less than $50,000.

What is the cost for the change of use?

An application for development approval where a ‘change of use’ is sought is $295, according to the Shire’s Schedule of Fees and Charges.

How many horses can I have?

The number of horses allowed is based on the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Stocking Rate Guidelines for Rural Small Holdings.

The Stocking Rate Guidelines provide a method and information for determining the base stocking rate most suited to particular soil-landscapes in ‘rural residential’ areas.

Stocking rates are the numbers of stock, e.g. sheep, cattle, horses, emus or any other type of animal that can consistently be kept on a piece of pasture all year round with minor additional feed and without causing environmental degradation.

How does it work? Officers calculate the stocking rate by considering the following factors:

  • Natural features on the property;
  • Soil type;
  • Pasture management;
  • Size, setbacks of pastures; and
  • Type of livestock. 

How long will my application take?

The statutory time frame for determination is 60 days or 90 days if an application is referred to neighbouring properties for comments.

How can I obtain an update on my application?

Upon submission of your application you will receive an acknowledgement letter providing details of the assessing Officer who can be contacted for an update.

What is an equine management plan?

An Equine Management Plan must demonstrate that a proposal would not result in adverse environmental, health and social impacts.

The Equine management plan should include the following details:

  • Number and sizes of horses proposed to be kept on the property;
  • How any existing vegetation would be protected;
  • Whether the paddocks are or proposed to be irrigated and how pasture cover will be maintained;
  • Number of paddocks and size of each paddock;
  • Details and size of any stables/shelters and how drainage to prevent nutrient runoff will be managed;
  • Details of number of hours per day horses would be off the paddocks/stabled;
  • Manure and waste management practices (refer to Health Local Law);
  • Dust Management (refer to Health Local Law);

Measures proposed to protect drains, waterways or wetlands where applicable.

Are there any particular requirements for stables?

  • A Building Permit will be required for all stables/shelters greater than 10m2
  • Every stable must have impervious rat-proof receptacles for the storing of horse feed such as chaff, bran, pollard, grain or seed and the like.
  • Animals should not be stabled or yarded within 15m of a dwelling
  • The erection of a stable will not be permitted on a property less than 4,000 square metres in area except in areas designated for equine purposes in the vicinity of the Byford Trotting Complex.

Stables must:

  • have a proper separate stall for each horse
  • have each wall and roof constructed of an impervious material;
  • have on all sides of the building between the wall and the roof a clear opening of a least 150 millimetres in height, unless otherwise approved by the Council; and
  • have walls of not less than 3 metres, when measured both horizontally or vertically. 

The upper surface of a stable floor must:

  • be raised at least 75 millimetres above the surface of the ground;
  • be constructed of cement, concrete or other similar impervious materials;
  • have a fall of 1 in 100 to a drain which shall empty into a trapped gully situated outside the stable and shall discharge to an approved treatment and disposal system;
  • have an area of not less than 11 square metres for each stall.

A stable constructed with a sand floor may be permitted by the Council, subject to the following:

  • the site must be well drained with the highest known water table no closer than 1.5 metres below the sand floor level which may be achieved artificially;
  • sand must be clean, coarse and free from dust;
  • footings to each stable shall be a minimum of 450mm below ground level;

the minimum floor area of each stall shall not be less than 15 square metres and walls shall not be less than 3 metres vertically or 4 metres horizontally and have a roof of not less than 50% of the floor area;

Are there requirements for the management of manure?

An owner or occupier of premises on which a stable is located must:

  • provide mobile or free standing fly-proof receptacles of a size, number and construction required by an Environmental Health Officer situated at not less than 15 metres from a dwelling house and into which shall be placed all wastes, inclusive of soiled bedding and manure produced on the premises;
  • keep the lids of the receptacles closed except when manure is being deposited or removed;
  • cause the receptacles to be emptied at least once a week and as often as may be necessary to prevent them becoming offensive or a breeding place for flies or other vectors of disease;
  • keep the receptacles so far as possible free from flies or other insects by spraying with a residual insecticide or other effective means; and
  • cause all manure produced on the premises to be collected daily and placed in the receptacles; and
  • the collection and storage or manure does not apply where horses are free ranging on land with an area greater than 2 hectares and no nuisance arising from the manure is created.

The Shire’s Health Local Law can be accessed here

Do I need approval to build a horse shelter or stable?

If you are proposing to build a horse shelter, shed, stable or similar structure you will need to submit a building permit application if the structure is;

  • More than 10mor
  • More than 2.4m in height or
  • Attached to another structure.

For further details for what is required to form part of a building application please refer to

I am not sure if my equine related developments are compliant, what should I do?

A retrospective development application will be required.

Although there have previously been additional charges for retrospective development applications, this is no longer the case. Therefore, the standard development application fee of $147 would apply for a proposal worth less than $50,000.

What do I do if my horse has passed away?

The burial of horses on private property is not permitted. The owner of the animal must make suitable arrangements for disposal. For more information please contact the Shire’s Environmental Health team on 9526 1111.


If you would like to lodge an application, please complete a development application for development approval.

For further information, please contact Planning Services on 9526 1111 or by email

Please download a copy of the Shire’s educational guidelines as they relate to the keeping of horses here.