Subdivision Stages – The Process
The 9 Stages of a typical Subdivision:
Last time, in ‘Subdivision Insights 1′ we finished off with highlighting the 1st stage which we’ll repeat again here as it’s very important to get set on the right foot. There are 8 more subdivision stages. These are not meant to be a full description of everything that needs to occur in each stage, but rather the order and a brief description.
- Preliminary Investigation and Design
One key to success is careful planning & Design.The first of your subdivision stages and one that is frequently not given its full due consideration is design. This stage is more important than a lot of people think. Prior to lodging an application with Council to subdivide your property, known as a development application or “DA” we will examine your property and your idea’s to ascertain the likelihood of success in gaining Council Approval, ‘approximate costs‘, potential pitfalls and any other issues that should be addressed prior to lodgement. Remember that accurate costs will not be known until all Council Approval conditions are known and the actual works required have been designed, quantified and quoted.
This initial examination will determine if your proposal complies with the “code” – that is the Town Plan. If it does your application will be ‘code assessable’. If it does not it is ‘impact assessable’ meaning it has somewhat less of a chance of succeeding and will be subject to a longer and more expensive scrutiny process by Council. Even if your proposal is code assessable there is still no guarantee of success due to a variety of factors, some physical, which we can discuss.
Here at SCM Projects it’s your choice – we can help you with ALL subdivision stages or just a few or even just one – it’s up to you – however we strongly recommend getting us involved early on – the sooner the better – as sometimes mistakes made early in the process are not always easily remedied later or can lead to unnecessary additional costs.
2. Getting Council approval – DA
Once all issues have been identified and a final design has been agreed on it’s time for the 2nd of the subdivision stages which is applying for a DA or getting initial Council Approval. At this point to ensure that your application is accepted it needs to include all the appropriate information including forms, plans and any required specialist reports to be considered as ‘Properly Made’ before Council will consider it.
3. Development Approval
When your application has been approved you will receive a ‘Decision Notice’ (often also referred to as a “DA” for ‘development approval’) which includes all the conditions required to be completed prior to getting your plan of subdivision sealed by Council. We will scrutinise these conditions to ensure that all are reasonable and cost effective. It is important that these are examined quickly as the legislation only allows you a short amount of time to dispute or negotiate these conditions, if you need to do so, to ensure that your project remains feasible. This is the third of your subdivision stages and should not be overlooked.
If you do need to dispute them you need to have someone on your side that knows the likelihood of success of your dispute and who can put up a good argument to back your dispute up, particularly where technical issues are involved. If you are successful Council will issue a new list of conditions known as a ‘Negotiated Decision Notice’. Decision notices usually have a lifespan of between 2 & 4 years, however receipt of a favourable Decision Notice does not mean that you have the right to go off and do all that is required straight away. You will likely need further approvals as follows.
4. Operational & Civil Works Approvals:
Following the acceptance of the Decision Notice we proceed to the fourth of the Subdivision stages, namely organising all the engineering and other detailed designs required to obtain Operational Works [ OPW] Approval from Council and other relevant bodies. Operational works relate to civil works often outside your land or connected to external services such as Sewer, Storm Water and Town water that will be owned and maintained by the Council or other semi government body on completion. Design of these items in a cost efficient way is extremely critical to achieve a feasible outcome and must comply with the relevant codes to gain approval. Again, Decision notices will be issued containing all the conditions of approval which need to be complied with to the letter by competent and appropriately qualified and certified contractors. One completed, inspected and complied specific ‘as constructed’ documentation is required. These works could also include kerb and channel, footpaths, and electricity connections to name some others.
5. Approvals & Designs for other private works
Most DA’s require completion of other private works such as new site access, stormwater disposal, electricity connections, power poles, provision of telecommunications, demolition of existing improvements such as houses, driveways, sheds and potentially removal of such things as asbestos and old swimming pools and also compaction or retaining of ground. Requirements will vary from one proposal to another.
After receipt of the OPW Decision Notice(s) we will prepare and issue tender documents and obtain quotes from required contractors to ensure the most cost-effective outcome for all operational works and civil works required under your DA. People often come unstuck here with incorrect specification of what is required. Under specification can be just as costly as over specification. You need to know precisely what is required and the way it needs to be done.
7. Civil Works & Operational Works Construction
During the construction phase of the operational works / civil works we will be on site to ensure that all works are constructed to industry and Council standards on time to fulfil the relevant DA conditions. If demolition works are required or land clearing for instance we will take care of that too. This is when all works associated with servicing the new lots to strict standards happens. Not only is it important that it happens correctly but correct timing and order in which things are done will save you money and to avoid potential disputes and frustration.
8. Compliance – Plan Sealing
Plan Sealing stage is just another term really for Final Council Approval. Yes, that’s right – you need to go back to the Council again to get Plan Sealing approval which is when they double check everything that you have done to ensure it complies with everything that they required you to do in the DA decision notice. This requires a report showing how you complied, inclusive of all the relevant certifications. We’ve seen many a project come unstuck at this crucial point. Remember if you don’t get your survey plan sealed you won’t get your new titles.
Concurrent to the construction phase, if you appoint us to manage your project, we will start on the preparation of the compliance report so we can lodge it along with your survey plan with a minimum loss of time for the sealing by Council. Once we have received the sealed plan back from Council, we can register it in the title’s office on your behalf. That’s it. You are now ready to have your plans lodged into the Titles Office.
9. Titles Office:
Now you have finished dealing with Council and start dealing with the State Government. Your sealed plan can be lodged into the Titles Office where they will register the new plan, creating new titles for each new lot on it and cancel the previous registered plan. If there are easements they are also registered at this time.
The Big Question?
So now you know what the 8 subdivision stages are, do you know ‘IF’ you can subdivide? Essentially there are 7 criteria that most properties need to have to get a subdivision approval and we cover each of them in much more detail in our guide The 7 ‘Must Haves’ to get Subdivision Approval. If you own a property or are contemplating buying one that you want to subdivide be sure to read this to get a very clear picture as to whether or not you are likely to qualify for subdivisional approval. We’ll cover all this and more next time in Subdivision Insights 3.
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