Do I need development approval to keep horses?

Yes. Generally, the only time development approval is not required is for lots zoned ‘Rural’ or ‘Rural Smallholding’ where no works are proposed. This is a relatively limited circumstance however, as many horse keeping properties in the Shire are zoned ‘Rural Residential’.

The Shire’s Local Planning Scheme No.3 (LPS3) lists the following zones where the keeping of horses can generally be considered through the development application process:

  • ‘Rural Residential’ (some exceptions apply);
  • ‘Rural’;
  • ‘Rural Smallholding’; 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 Local Planning Scheme No.3 (LPS3) is utilised.

LPS3 outlines which areas are permitted to include specific types of developments, including equine related developments.

Local Planning Scheme No. 3

The keeping of horses within LPS3 would generally fall within the following two land uses:

Animal Establishment

An ‘Animal Establishment’ land use would be where horses are bred, boarded, trained or cared for. Generally, the defining factor is that the horses are kept for a commercial purpose in this case. This land use is ‘D’ or discretionary within the ‘Rural Smallholding’ and ‘Rural’ zones. Where the land use is discretionary it can be considered in an application for development approval.

Rural Pursuit/Hobby Farm

A ‘Rural Pursuit/Hobby Farm’ land use is where an occupier of the land rears, agists, stables or trains horses. In this instance the horses are privately owned. This land use is ‘P’ or permitted within the ‘Rural Smallholding’ and ‘Rural’ zones. 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’ and ‘Urban Development’ zones, 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’s Stocking Rate Guidelines for Rural Small Holdings.

The Stocking Rate Guidelines provide a method and information for determining the base stocking rate for properties. The number of stock that can be kept varies based on the soil-landscapes.

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 here. 

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?

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.


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.