Laneway and Carriage Houses

New Westminster’s Laneway and Carriage House program began in 2017 after the building form was permitted through the updated Official Community Plan. The City of New Westminster now permits the development of laneway and carriage houses on many single detached dwelling properties.

Laneway and carriage houses are small, detached, ground-oriented dwellings located in backyards. Laneway houses are located on properties that have access to a lane. Carriage houses are located on properties without a lane.

These new housing forms will contribute to the amount and diversity of rental housing available in the city. Laneway and carriage houses can be used for family or as rental units, but cannot be strata-titled, sold or used for short-term rentals (e.g. for a bed and breakfast). Laneway and carriage houses offer more privacy and independence than secondary suites.

Additional Resources 

streamlined laneway and carriage house guidelines

Through the summer of 2022, the City engaged with past applicants and community members in a review of the laneway and carriage house program. Broad support for the program was heard, as well as a desire to see more laneway and carriage houses. Various recommendations for changes and streamlining of the program were received, as well as feedback regarding the need to continue to ensure that these housing forms fit well in neighbourhoods. 

Council’s new 2023-2026 Strategic Priorities Plan identifies homes and housing options as a key priority for the City. This, combined with anticipated changes in provincial regulations, has changed the scope and timeline of the infill housing program review. As an interim measure, to ensure that the feedback from community members and past applicants is acted upon, the City has implemented pilot Streamlined Guidelines for laneway and carriage houses. 
These guidelines:
  • Focus in on guidelines most important to achieving the intent of the program, and remove some of the detail that was resulting in longer review timelines;
  • Clarify which guidelines “must be met” and which should “be considered”;
  • Provide more clarity on definitions and expectations.
The intent of piloting these guidelines is to allow for rapid implementation of improvements to the program, and to allow revised guidelines to be tested and evaluated. The program implementation will continue to be monitored. 
For fastest review times, laneway and carriage house proposals should meet all of the design guidelines listed as “must be met”. If a site is unique or constrained, staff will work with applicants to find site-specific solutions that continue to meet the intent of guidelines; timelines for these reviews will be longer.


What's New?

Step Code

Starting May 1, 2023, all laneway and carriage houses must meet Step Code Level 3. The BC Energy Step Code requires new buildings to meet higher energy efficiency standards than the minimum prescriptive requirements of the BC Building Code. This aligns with the City’s Seven Bold Steps on Climate Change: Carbon Free Homes and Buildings. For more information, please visit the Buildings and Climate Action page on our website. 

  • Can I have both a secondary suite and a laneway or carriage house on my property

    Yes, click here for more information on secondary suite requirements.

    Can I build my new main house and laneway or carriage house at the same time? 

    Typically, the Building Permit for the new main house is issued first, and builders start construction work on the main house before the laneway or carriage house is approved.

    If you are building the main house first, plan ahead and be sure to leave enough room. At minimum, plan for 16 feet of open space (measured from the edge of a rear deck to the laneway or carriage house), enough room for the laneway or carriage house building and space for the rear setback. Additional space may also be needed to accommodate trees, parking, rights-of-way or on-site vehicle turnaround. At least one side of the main house would need to be able to accommodate a fire access route with a minimum width of four feet excluding projections other than eaves. The side yard setback may also need to accommodate utilities and servicing.

    If there is not enough space, alterations to the main house may be required before a laneway or carriage house can be approved. Planning staff can provide input on site design that can accommodate a future laneway or carriage house. 

    How can a laneway or carriage house be used?

    Laneway and carriage houses can be used for family or as rental units. Laneway and carriage houses cannot be strata-titled or sold separately. Nor can they be used for short term rentals (e.g. for a bed and breakfast).

    I have a single detached dwelling property but it is not shown on the map of eligible properties. Why is that?

    Only properties designated (RD) Residential – Detached or Semi-Detached or designed (RGO) Residential – Ground Oriented Infill Housing on the Land Use Designation Map in the Official Community Plan, are eligible for a laneway or carriage house. If your property is not shown on the map of eligible properties, it is does not have one of these two designations. 

    I live in Queensborough. Can I have a laneway or carriage house?

    No, the Queensborough Plan does not allow laneway or carriage houses. Due to the different circumstances in Queensborough (such as the floodplain) a separate process to determine potential for laneway or carriage house development will be completed for this neighbourhood in the future. 

    What size of laneway or carriage house can I build?

    Step 3 laneway and carriage houses can have a density of up to 11% of the site area. If the main house is less than the 0.50 Floor Space Ratio (FSR), then up to a 0.05 FSR can be transferred to the laneway or carriage house, for a maximum of 16% of the site area (or an equivalent of 0.16 FSR).

    Different FSR limits may apply to Protected properties in the Queen's Park Heritage Conservation Area. Click here for more information on the HCA Incentives Program.

    The maximum size of a laneway or carriage house is 89 square metres (958 square feet).

    What are the parking requirements? 

    A total of two parking spaces are required (even if there are three units: a principal dwelling, a secondary suite, and laneway or carriage house). Tandem parking spaces (one behind the other) are not permitted. Only one garage space is permitted inside the laneway house or carriage house. The floor space of the enclosed parking will count towards the permitted floor space ratio (FSR) of the laneway or carriage house. Up to one parking space can be a carport. Parking spaces can be parking pads.

    Can I convert my existing garage into a laneway or carriage house?

    The conversion of an existing garage into a laneway or carriage house would be very challenging. The laneway or carriage house would need to comply with the BC Building Code, meet all development permit guidelines and comply with the Zoning Bylaw regulations.

    Can I have a laneway or carriage house and detached garage?

    No, only one detached accessory structure is allowed: either a laneway or carriage house, or a detached garage.

    Does the laneway or carriage house get extra street parking permits?

    Yes. If your neighbourhood uses street parking permits, then passes are available for each “household”. A main house, secondary suite, and laneway or carriage house are each considered separate households and eligible for parking permits.  Parking permits are available for a fee from the Engineering Department.

  • Planning Division

    For questions about the about zoning regulations, guidelines or the Development Permit process.

    Phone: 604-527-4532

    Building Division 

    For information on Building Code and Plumbing Bylaw requirements, and the Building Permit process.

    Phone: 604-527-4580
    Webpage: Building and Property Improvements

    City Arborist 

    For information about the Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw, and tree removal requirements.

    Phone: 604-636-4318
    Webpage: Tree Permits

    Energy Savings

    For information about Energy Save New West, and access to energy evaluations, upgrades, rebates and incentives.

    Phone: 604-515-3818
    Webpage: Energy Save New West

    Electrical Utility 

    For information about service connections, connection location and metering. 

    Phone: 604-527-4528
    Webpage: Electrical Utility 

    Water, Sewer, & Garbage Services

    For information about engineering servicing and requirements (including water, sewer, and garbage).

    Phone: 604-527-4592
    Webpages: Services Permit Guide
                         Garbage Collection