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 compact, detached, ground oriented dwellings located in back yards. Laneway houses are located on properties that have access to a lane. Carriage houses are located on properties without lanes.

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 

  • Laneway and carriage houses must meet development permit guidelines, zoning regulations and Building Code regulations. The development permit guidelines provide direction for the form and character (the look) of the building as well as topics such as lighting, landscaping and energy efficiency. The Zoning Bylaw includes regulations for density, height, and parking in districts where laneway and carriage houses are permitted. Both laneway and carriage houses are referred to as “detached accessory dwelling units” in the City’s Zoning Bylaw.

    If you are considering building a laneway or carriage house:

    1. Contact the Planning Division and confirm that the zoning on your property allows a laneway or carriage house. (See contact information below.)
       
    2. Set up a pre-application review meeting with the Planning Division.
       

    Pre-Application Meeting 

    Before you move forward with hiring any professionals or making an application, book an appointment for a pre-application meeting (see contact information below) at which time a Planner will discuss with you the requirements and approval process, and answer any questions you may have. At the pre-application meeting the Planner will also do their best to flag potential issues or constraints specific to your property that may arise through the approval process. Being aware of these issues prior to hiring design or building professionals can help you to save money. Examples of constraints include:

    • Lot size and shape: There are not requirements for minimum lot size, width or depth. However, it will be more difficult to build on small, shallow or oddly shaped properties.
    • Building Separation: There is a minimum requirement for the distance between the main house and the laneway or carriage house. Depending on the placement of your existing house, and the size and depth of your property, it may be difficult to meet this requirement.
    • Pedestrian access: An access path from the street to the laneway or carriage house is required, and the path must meet minimum width requirements. Depending on the placement of your existing house and width of your property, it may be difficult to meet these requirements.
    • Lane dedication or right of way: The City would like to see full width lanes throughout New Westminster for safer vehicle access and reduced transportation conflicts on busy streets. To achieve this goal, the City may require a lane dedication or right of way for the development of a laneway or carriage house.
    • Trees: Recognizing that the urban forest is a valued public resource at risk of decline, all new development proposals must consider the Urban Forest Management Strategy and comply with the Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw. Tree protection and replacement requirements may limit your ability to build.  
    • Cost: Design and construction costs to build a laneway or carriage house are not insignificant. Beyond these costs, there may be additional costs for a professional to properly service the new development, as well as costs associated with other City fees and permits, depending on the context of your property. 
  • 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. 

    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 designed (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?

    Laneway and carriage houses can be 0.10 Floor Space Ratio (FSR) (equivalent to 10% of the area of the property). If the main house is less than the 0.50 FSR, then up to a 0.05 FSR can be transferred to the laneway or carriage house, for a maximum of 0.15 FSR (a floor space equivalent to 15% of the area of the property). The maximum FSR for the property is 0.6. 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

    To set up a pre-application meeting, or for questions about the about zoning regulations, guidelines or the Development Permit process.

    Phone: 604-527-4532
    Email: plnpost@newwestcity.ca

    Building Division 

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

    Phone: 604-527-4580
    Email: inspections@newwestcity.ca
    Webpage: Building and Property Improvements

    City Arborist 

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

    Phone: 604-636-4318
    Email: treeprotectionbylaw@newwestcity.ca
    Webpage: Tree Removal Permit

    Energy  Savings

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

    Phone: 604-515-3818
    Email: info@energysavenewwest.ca
    Webpage: Energy Save New West

    Electrical Utility 

    For information about service connections 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
    Email: engpost@newwestcity.ca
    Webpages: Services Permit Guide
                         Garbage Collection 

    Parking Permits 

    For information about residential and visitor parking permits and purchasing requirements.

    Phone: 604-519-2010
    Email: parking@newwestcity.ca
    Webpage: Parking Permit Options