Planning Updates – Frequently Asked Questions

In 2014, we will see a number of changes to planning in Queensland. These changes will occur at all levels of government including Local,  Regional and State. Over the next few months we will be presenting a number of newsletters and planning updates to keep you up-to-date with the most recent changes and what they may mean for you. We have also included a recent “Feature Project” or approval for particular developments.

The first of these newsletters is a list of frequently asked town planning questions we receive on a daily basis. Please feel free to leave a comment with any queries that you may have regarding this post. Alternatively send an email to dylan@kenryanassoc.com.au and we will respond to your query as soon as possible.

DO I NEED A TOWN PLANNING APPLICATION TO EXTEND MY HOUSE?
Not all extensions require a Town Planning application to be lodged to Council. The most common triggers in Brisbane City Council are if the House is located on a Small Lot (i.e. less than 450m2 in site area or less than an average width of 15 metres), the site is identified within the Demolition Control Precinct or if the House is located in a Rural or Environmental Protection Area.

An extension to a House on a Small Lot is required to be assessed if it does not meet the requirements of the Residential Design – Small Lot Code. The most common triggers are:

  • Side boundary clearance less than 1.5 metres.
  • Front boundary setback that is not within 20% of the adjoining houses.
  • Total length of buildings on the site is excess of 25 metres.
  • Double garage or double carport within the front setback.
  • Height of side and rear walls (not the roof) in excess of 7.5 metres above ground level.

Demolition Control Precincts are designed to protect the traditional character of Brisbane. Specifically the provisions relate to houses which have been constructed prior to or during 1946. Council has aerial mapping taken in 1946 which identifies whether a house was constructed prior to, or after 1946. A new House in a Demolition Control Precinct is also required to be assessed by Council to ensure that it includes traditional character architectural features, consistent with pre-1946 houses in the streetscape.

If a dwelling was constructed after 1946, an extension is likely to require a town planning application to be lodged if it is not located to the rear of the existing dwelling. Extensions to the front of the house may need to be assessed by Council to ensure that the traditional character is being retained.

If the dwelling was constructed before 1946, works to the rear of the dwelling are unlikely to require a town planning application provided that the site is not a Small Lot. If the proposal required any removal of pre-1946 elements including removal of external walls, windows or main roof form (including gable detailing) is required, an application will be triggered as these works are considered “Partial Demolition”. Council is required to assess the extent of demolition in order to identify whether the works will result in the loss of traditional character for the dwelling.

New or extensions to Houses in the Rural or Environmental Protection Area require assessment if they are not located within an approved Building Envelope. Building Envelopes are usually established at the time of subdivision. A significant percentage of Rural or Environmental Protection Areas are affected by the Natural Assets Local Law Overlay. This overlay seeks to protect native vegetation from being removed. If the site does not contain a Building Envelope then a Notifiable Code application is required to be submitted to Council as it does not meet the Acceptable Solutions of the House Code. This requires 10 Business Days of public advertising however any submitters do not have a right to appeal the decision.

CAN MY APPLICATION BE ASSESSED THROUGH RISKSMART?
The RiskSMART program identifies a key set of criteria for development which is suitable to be accepted through the program. Usually this does not include extensions to Houses which are Impact Assessable or which require Partial Demolition. These exclusions are due to a greater level of assessment by Council in order to determine whether the application proposed is suitable.

Some exceptions are made where letters of support from the affected neighbours are provided at lodgement. However if the application does not strictly meet the guidelines, a request will need to be made to the RiskSMART team for consideration. A full list of acceptable RiskSMART development can be found under the RiskSMART link on our website.

CAN I DEMOLISH/REMOVE MY HOUSE?
This is one of the most common questions we are asked. If your dwelling is located in a Demolition Control Precinct AND constructed before or during 1946 then the removal will require a Notifiable Code application. This application is required to assess whether the removal of the House would adversely impact the streetscape. The criteria for whether a house can be removed or demolished are:

  • The house is Structurally Unsound and not reasonably capable of being made Structurally Sound. This requires a detailed structurally unsound report prepared by a RPEQ and costings report to be submitted to Council as part of the application.
  • There are no other pre-1946 houses within the streetscape.
  • The House has been significantly altered. These alterations need to be irreversible and to the extent that the house is no longer recognizable as a pre-1946 house. The enclosure of a front verandah is not enough that the dwelling has been substantially altered.

CAN I SUBDIVIDE?
All Council’s in South East Queensland have varying minimum lot sizes. Typically in order to subdivide you will need a minimum site area of 800 square metres and a minimum width of 20 metres in Low Density areas and not in a DCP (in DCP areas and parts of Moggill, minimum lot sizes are 450 square metres). If you are looking to subdivide for a battle-axe or front and rear lot configuration then you will typically need a minimum site area of 1,000 square metres.

Other issues which can restrict development are:

  • If the site slopes to the rear – all new allotments need to be provided with a Lawful Point of Discharge, if the site slopes to the rear you need to have access to a stormwater connection on your site or consent from the adjoining landowner to enter their site to connect to a lawful point of discharge.
  • Flooding – if the site is impacted by flooding or overland flow then you may have difficulty subdividing depending on the extent of the flooding. Not all overland flow is identified on Council’s mapping so it is a good idea to call Council’s contact centre to confirm and seek local residents’ input on storm events.
  • Access to services – you will need to provide each allotment with water, sewer and stormwater connections. An engineering report will be required to prove that all lots are able to be sufficiently serviced by traditional infrastructure.
  • Irregular lot shape – if the allotment is irregular in shape, you will need to comply with the relevant Council’s minimum building area for each allotment. This can be found in each Council’s Subdivision Code or Reconfiguration table.

We recommend talking to Council through the Contact Centre to identify whether there are any issues on the site. These initial enquiries will give you a good idea whether subdivision is possible.

 HOW LONG WILL A DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION TAKE?
The time taken for a Development Application to be assessed by Council varies depending on the type and complexity of the application itself and Council staff turnover. Traditional school holiday periods also usually mean a slower turnover for applications due to reduced staff in Council.

At present, Da’s that we prepare and lodge meed or exceed the following times:

  • RiskSMART Code – 2 Weeks (10 Business Days from payment of lodgement fees)
  • RiskSMART Notifiable Code – 1-1.5 Months (10 Business Days from lodgement that advertising complete)
  • RiskSMART Impact – 2 Months (10 Business Days from lodgement that advertising is complete)
  • Code Application – 2 Months
  • Notifiable Code Application – 2-3 Months (required 2 weeks public advertising)
  • Impact Application – 3-6 Months (requires 15 business days public advertising)

FEATURE PROJECT:

Raising a House on a Small Lot and within a Demolition Control Precinct – Shorncliffe
Shorncliffe is well known for its bayside lifestyle and its fairly intact pre-war streetscapes.  This application proposed raising a pre-1946 House on a Small Lot. The client was seeking to raise and relocate the existing dwelling towards the side boundary, allowing for greater maneuverability and access to the garage. Raising a dwelling on a Small Lot does not usually require an application due to the exemptions listed in the first section of the Small Lot Code. However as the development was not able to meet the minimum side boundary clearances of the Building Regulation the exemption did not apply in this instance, triggering Impact Assessment. In consideration that the proposal was consistent with the requirements of the Character Code and (with the exception of side setbacks) the Small Lot Code, the application was accepted through the RiskSMART process.

The proposed works reinstated the existing front verandah, and relocated the front door to the lower level. They also introduced a batten freeze to the lower level and slightly recessed the lower level additions, providing a sympathetic and lightweight design complementing the pre-1946 character within the area.

The development was lodged over the Christmas/New Year period, limiting the ability for advertising to commence. Once advertising had been completed, the approval was received within 6 days.

Shorncliffe

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