• VCAT
Why the correct minimum garden area is essential for permit approval

September 1, 2018

Filling in the gap – the minimum garden area requirement becomes part of the building regulations.

When developing, planning and building go hand in hand. But what happens when there is a major disconnect between the two?

A gap in planning and building regulation has meant that the minimum garden area rule was not being enforced once planning approval was given. The lack of regulation of the rule past the planning stage has effectively left it mute in practical terms.

Now a new building regulation has been brought in so that the minimum garden area requirement has to be considered under building regulation.

Building Surveyors are now required to assess the minimum garden requirements when issuing building permits for residential developments. The previous absence of the rule in building regulation has meant that Building Surveyors had no obligation to check that construction plans were complying with the minimum garden rule.

New regulation 76A has been added to the Building Regulations 2018 to bring both building and planning regulations in line with each other.

The grey area

The lack of consistency meant there was no accountability if a building permit was issued for plans that did not reflect the correct garden area requirement approved by council. There was potential for many oversights or even exploitation of this grey area. Which could have left houses being built without the correct amount of garden area. Now building surveyors have to take into account the rule when issuing building permits as part of rescode requirements.

The minimum garden area requirement was introduced in March 2017 and was amended in June 2018.

It set out a mandatory percentage of ‘garden area’ required based on lot size.

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

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

For residential development planning approval is given on the condition that the required garden area has been complied with.

Given the potential for developments to be built without the required garden area why was this not made part of building regulation sooner?

It is thought that this was always part of the Victoria State Government’s roll out of the minimum garden rule rather than a reaction to houses being built that are non-complaint.

However, from the introduction of the garden area rule and up until now there has been a significant gap in the implementing of the garden area rule from the planning approval stage to the issuing of a building permit.  

Strong consistency in planning and building is what makes effective development and at least now the gap has been filled.