Subdivisions – Can I Subdivide?
The Top 3 things that you need to establish.
- · The correct zoning of the land, incl any neighbourhood precinct or sub zone.
- · The minimum land size required per lot in that zone / sub zone
- · The minimum frontage for each lot or minimum access width for battle-axe lots
However, there is more to than that as we point out below
7 ‘Must Have’ pre-requisites to enable a property to be subdivided:
1. Land size or area for the current zoning:
Every piece of property will have a specific zoning under the local Council’s town plan and within that zoning there will be a minimum size (area) specified that you need to exceed before you can subdivide. Sometimes this is specified as a minimum lot size that you need to achieve once subdivided. Either way, simple maths or deduction will tell you if a subdivision is possible. Note that minimum lot sizes for full frontage lots may vary from those of rear access lots.
Therefore you need to ascertain the correct size and zoning of the property in question. In part 4, next month, of this continuing series we will list some minimum lot sizes fro different zones for some SEQ Councils
You must have at least the minimum sized lot to do what you want
NB: Also when you are doing this it is worthwhile checking to see if there are any restrictive ‘overlays’ affecting the property. [See no 6 below]
Check the dimensions of your property, especially the frontage, to see that the existing property dimensions will enable each new lot that you propose to have the minimum requirements. Frontage is especially important along with average width in determining if a subdivision is possible. For rear lots you will need to provide a legal access which will usually range upwards from 3.6M in width.
You must have the minimum dimensions required.
In considering these first 2 points against the Council town planning requirements what you are in effect doing is comparing the property against what is known as the ‘Code’, i.e. you are checking to see if it is ‘code assessable’. If it does comply with the code it is likely [but not guaranteed] that you are able to gain approval so long as you are able to qualify in respect to ‘other issues’, most of which we cover below. So when we say ‘must have’ we are saying what it is that you must have in order to comply with the code. Not complying with the Code does not stop you making an application. If you do not comply it does not unequivocally mean that you will not be able to do what you want. If you come close to complying or there are other mitigating circumstances it may still be possible to gain an approval. In these circumstances your application will be considered ‘impact assessable’ and will usually attract a higher application fee, require more expert support and take longer to assess. In other words it will cost you more money with a high degree of uncertainty as to its likely success.
3. Services – Infrastructure:
Remember that each new lot is required to have the minimum services that are provided in that area which can be ascertained by an enquiry at the local Council. In urban areas this will likely involve the provision for each new lot of town water, sewer, stormwater drainage, electricity, telecoms and legal access to name just some. Remembering that the onus and cost of providing these things is on you and they must be connected to the public grid. You need to ascertain if (i) the services are available & where (ii)if it is physically possible to make a functional connection.
TIP: Just because a connection is possible it also needs to work i.e. function. For example the sewer connection needs to be downstream of the proposed lot as we all know that water does not run uphill. There may be a possibility in a neighbouring property however there is no requirement for a neighbour to allow access for such things.
You must be able to connect to all relevant services for all lots
4. Lay of the land – Stormwater disposal:
When considering subdivision applications these days a major consideration for Councils is the disposal of stormwater for each new lot to a ‘legal point of discharge’ (LPD). This is especially true in urban areas where the trend is to subdivide larger original lots into several ‘small lots’ and building 2 or more new homes where once there was one. This is called ‘infill development’
The most common LPD is the street although sometimes properties that slope away from the street may have access to an LPD by way of a benefit easement for drainage purposes or even a Council storm water pipe within the land that they can access.
It may also be possible to build up / fill the land in question or gain access to a LPD through a neighbouring property however these both involve extra costs. In some semi-rural areas some Councils still allow soakage pits on large lots.
You must be able to drain stormwater to a legal point of discharge
When you check the zoning of your land you should also check for what are known as ‘overlays’. These are other things relating to issues covered in the town plan that relate to your particular block some of which may be restrictive and affect your ability to subdivide. These could include flooding, overland flow or traditional housing precincts for instance. Other restrictive overlays include bushfire and ecological issues which are usually graded for severity and do not necessarily affect 100% of the land in question. Never the less any subdivision application will need to address the issues raised by these overlays usually backed up by an experts report and opinion. Whilst they do have the potential to kill your proposal it may not necessarily be the case. In these circumstances you should consult us or an expert for advice.
You must be able to demonstrate how your plans successfully overcome overlay issues
6. Existing Improvements:
The location of any existing improvements within the property may impede or affect where you draw the line of your proposed subdivision and your ability to satisfy the issues outlined in points 1 & 2 above. You need to decide if you wish to keep or demolish those improvements in light of this and the costs / benefits of so doing. In some zoning you may not be allowed to demolish or remove those improvements although sometimes they can be moved within a property at a cost of course that needs to be factored in.
You must have a clear idea about the permissability, viability or need to remove or demolish improvements.
The last but certainly not the least thing that you need to consider is the cost of doing a subdivision – we’ll cover that in more detail later – but moreover, you should consider the value of the sum of the parts in the finished project versus the value of the starting point and costs associated with the project. For example ask yourself if I were to cut off my back yard is the value of the newly created lot & my house on the smaller lot more valuable than my house currently plus the costs of doing the subdivision? We’ve published a lot more on Feasibility – click here to read it and also here
The project must be feasible otherwise it’s hardly worth doing. [In some cases this may not be a necessary or important criteria eg. providing a lot for a relative]