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Why the correct minimum garden area is essential for permit approval

June 1, 2018

Changes to the minimum garden area rule – What this means for you as a developer

The new minimum garden area requirement that came into act in March last year meant bad news for developers. The new rules gave less space to develop on with stricter rules on garden space.

Now the government’s new amendment which came into effect in June gives more flexibility and freedom and clarification on what garden area can include.

The new amendment still incorporates the mandatory percentage based on the lot size as can be seen on the table below. But what can be classed as garden area and what is exempt has been identified more clearly and given wider parameters.

Lot size Minimum percentage of a lot set aside as garden area

  • 400 – 500 sqm 25%
  • Above 500 – 650sqm 30%
  • Above 650 sqm 35%

The definition of the Garden Area has been amended to include any area on a lot with a minimum dimension of 1 metre that does not include:

  • a) a dwelling or residential building, except for:
    • an eave, fascia or gutter that does not exceed a total width of 600mm;
    • a pergola;
    • unroofed terraces, patios, decks, steps or landings less than 800mm in height;
    • a basement that does not project above ground level;
    • any outbuilding that does not exceed a gross floor area of 10 square metres; and
  • domestic services normal to a dwelling or residential building;
  • b) a driveway; or
  • c) an area set aside for car parking.

 The old definition states:

An uncovered outdoor area of a dwelling or residential building normally associated with a garden. It includes open entertaining areas, decks, lawns, garden beds, swimming pools, tennis courts and the like. It does not include a driveway, any area set aside for car parking, any building or roofed area and any area that has a dimension of less than 1 metre.

The confusion came from the reference to ‘any building or roofed area’ and the ambiguity over what this includes. One issue was whether space under the eave of the house could be considered garden area or not.  What These New Changes Allow – The amendment now allows areas under eaves, fascias, gutters as well as everything listed in the definition – provided they meet the criteria – to be included as garden area. This gives less limitations and more flexibility to developers.

It is important to note upper level balconies and roof terraces are not classed as garden area. 

In addition the Council now have the power to overturn the minimum garden area requirement in certain general residential zones which are thought to need higher density housing by amending the schedule to the zone.  This gives developers more opportunities in places close to jobs, services or places in need of redevelopment.

The minimum garden area has been lifted for homeowners wanting to construct or extend a house where a planning permit is not required.

For a full description of the changes to the garden area as released by the state government click here.