Town Planning – Residential

When is Town Planning required for my project?

Town Planning is required for a number of reasons when you set-out to extend or renovate your home.

Town Planning Scheme –

Most local government authorities have a planning scheme for their jurisdiction. The Town Planning scheme is a map of all properties in the locality and is designed to regulate the use of land and the development of that land.

The scheme is divided up into areas to govern the type of property for a particular area.

  • Industrial
  • Rural
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Parks & Gardens etc.
Town Planning Scheme
Town Planning Scheme

These areas are known as “planning zones” so for your home it is most likely zoned residential. And the idea is to prevent other types of construction being built in that locality. For instance if your neighbourhood is zoned “Residential” it is unlikely that a factory will be built next door to you as that type of construction would not be permitted in a residential area.

Town Planning Overlays

Town Planning Overlays are influences on land that need to be considered when developing a property. For instance, a “Bushfire” overlay means that a development must be designed to meet a bushfire hazard identified on that property. It is your Design Professionals responsibility to investigate the influences on a development and ensure that the design documentation meets all of the requirements of the overlay.

Brisbane Town Planning Overlay
Town Planning Overlay

Some overlays are –

  • Bushfire hazards
  • Flooding potential
  • Noise Corridor
  • Heritage
  • Protected species habitats
  • Protected vegetation
  • Airport environs etc

In most cases, development on these areas will trigger an application for approval under the Town Planning Scheme.

Other Planning Triggers

Other Acts and Regulations enacted by parliament are enforced under the Local Authorities Planning Departments. For instance, most municipalities are governed by a “Development Code” which cover a multitude of development considerations but the most common one that influences residential properties is boundary setbacks. It is most likely that your home is setback a certain distance from the front, side and rear boundaries in order to comply with the “Development Code” and this varies depending on the size of your allotment, covenants, by-laws etc.

Bushfire Overlay
Bushfire Overlay

As families grow, the confines of the residence have an effect on the needs of occupants. For instance a family of 3 becomes a family of 5 and the garage gets turned into a rumpus room, a bedroom is built out the back and a carport is built in the front of where the garage use to be. And this new carport is an encroachment on the front boundary setback which triggers a siting relaxation by the Planning Department.

Town Planning Applications

What happens when you find yourself in a position where a Town Planning Application is required?

Your “Design Professional” usually will engage the services of a “Town Planner” or may make the application themselves depending on their experience with the type of development requiring an application. In either case, the consultant will put together a proposal addressing the issues associated with the impact on the code, overlay or scheme and make a case that there will be little or no adverse effect to the area or the neighbourhood.

Development Approvals

The Planning Department, if it considers the application to be reasonable, will issue an approval to proceed to Building Certification, usually with a list of conditions associated with the approval. Your “Design Professional” will then incorporate all of the conditions into the design so that it is developed in accordance with the “Local Authorities” conditions.

What does this mean to me?

Ok so now you have your approval to proceed to “Building Certification” apart from making sure that all of the conditions are incorporated into the documentation there is nothing else to do. However sometimes the conditions can impose additional construction requirements which will increase the cost of construction and should be investigated before proceeding. I have seen developments take a different course once all of the conditions are handed down and in some rare cases require further submissions or have ceased altogether. But this is very rare and in all cases I have dealt with as far as Town Planning applications for residences, there has been little or no effect on the development.

So apart from the Town Planning Application cost and time to complete you should be good to go. Engage the right people to do the work and everything will be fine. I highly recommend that you don’t try and make the application yourself as some that have tried, have failed.

And my final thought on this is to allow time for this process to happen. Many people get frustrated in the time it takes to get approvals. It can take weeks or months to receive an approval and you should be prepared for that. Your “Design Professional” can not do much with the documentation until they receive an approval as the conditions of the approval can influence the documentation considerably.

I hope this information helps in your understanding of the process. My disclaimer is that I am not a Town Planner and the information I have presented here is not exhaustive by any means. There is a lot involved with Town Planning and this was only intended to give you, as a home owner, some insight into what it is all about. Speak with your “Design Professional” or “Town Planner” to get a better understanding of what will be required for your project.