The wait is over – it is finally here! The new Townsville City Plan 2014 which promises less red tape for dwelling houses and dual occupancy/duplex developments! But, what does the scheme really mean for residential development? And are things actually easier with less Council involvement?
The Oil Stone is here to give you a quick summary of the development properties that are affected by the new scheme.
According to the change, dwelling houses are now exempt from the planning scheme. ‘Sorry, come again?’ Yes, that’s right. The proposed use of a new house on a vacant property, which would usually require self-assessment against the planning scheme, is now exempt. This means the planning scheme no longer stipulates any siting or design requirements, which is a huge change from previous Queensland planning schemes and the rules in Townsville.
As a result, new dwelling houses in certain zones will simply require assessment against the relevant Queensland Development Codes.
For your convenience, we’ve listed these zones below:
• Low Density Residential Zone
• Medium Density Residential Zone
• High Density Residential Zone
• Rural Residential Zone, and
• Character Residential Zone.
Although your new dwelling may not require you to apply to Council for a Material Change of Use (MCU), you must be careful to ensure there are no overlays that can impact your site and change the level of assessment. Such overlays include the Water Resource Catchment, Flood Hazard, and Coastal Protection overlays.
Additionally, building work within the Character Residential Zone may be triggered for Code Assessment if the works are identified in Table 5.8.1 of the planning scheme. Please refer to our other story on what building in this zone means for you.
Dual Occupancies & Duplexes
And there is more good news for MCU legislation. The Townsville City Council has determined that the process of requesting a MCU for a dual occupancy or duplex has no benefit to the community and simply provides unnecessary hurdles and costs for landowners and builders. So, Council has decided to scrap this process for these developments. This exemption applies whether you are constructing two new dwellings on a site or adding second dwelling.
To summarise, you will not be required to submit a MCU application if your property falls within the following zones:
• Low Density Residential Zone;
• Medium Density Residential Zone;
• High Density Residential Zone; and
• Character Residential Zone.
As with dwelling houses, be aware that the Water Resource Catchment, Flood Hazard, and Coastal Protection overlays may impact the level of assessment of your dual occupancy, and if your property is within the Character Residential Zone, you will also need to determine if your building work will be triggered for Code Assessment. The design and siting of your duplex or dual occupancy will need to comply with the relevant Queensland Development Code parts.
One very important point to note is that pre-existing Plans of Development, for example the North Shore Plan of Development or Cosgrove Plan of Development, may demand particular levels of assessment for types of development. This means that if the development plan lists a dual occupancy as code assessable, then you cannot assess against the new City Plan and you must conduct a planning application with the council. Let me emphasise again that this is very important to remember.
Do we still need to pay infrastructure charges?
In short, yes. Duplexes and dual occupancies, although they no longer require a MCU approval, still require infrastructure charges to be paid directly to Council. Under the planning act, Council must issue an Infrastructure Charges Notice to the land owner/developer within 20 business days of receiving a copy of the building permit. It is the responsibility of the land owner to pay council for these charges.
As previously, dwelling houses and secondary dwellings, e.g. a small granny flat, do not require any infrastructure charges to be paid to Council.
At the time of the building application, your building certifier may offer you a service to conduct an estimated charge. This is advisable and will greatly help with your project budget.
What if I am in a Rural Zone?
A proposed rural dwelling house is still self-assessable against the City Plan, but is applicable only if there will be no more than two dwellings of any kind on a single lot. This has been introduced so that the rural property now can have Caretaker’s Accommodation, Community Residence, or Rural Workers Accommodation on site without requiring additional Council approval.
All of these development types are self-assessable against the Rural Zone Code, which also includes siting and design criteria. However, a duplex or dual occupancy is not permissible on site if the dwelling unit is to be rented out to people not associated with the rural use on site.
My site is in the Character Residential Zone. What does this mean for me?
Although the new City Plan will make most low density residential developments much easier, the inclusions of a new Character Residential Zone means certain types of construction in this zone will be triggered for code assessment with council. You should contact your building certifier or town planner as soon as you discover your site is within this zone.
My site is sloping. What should I do?
Previously, you might have been required to obtain a MCU approval for your dwelling. However, the new City Plan now leaves room to determine whether this is necessary and criteria is based on the degree of the property’s incline. Dwelling houses or dual occupancies will not require an MCU if they fall within the Very Low, Low, and Medium hazard areas on the overlay map, but only if the development has been previously determined to be exempt or self-assessable.
You will, however, be required to submit a MCU application if you are proposing to build on a high and potential debris flow hazard area, or on a property having a slope angle greater than 23 degrees. Accompanying this application, you will need to submit a site-specific geotechnical engineer report, which must be written for the proposed development type.
Although you may determine a MCU is not required, you will still need to practice good hillside development procedures. Most likely, your structural engineer will request a site-specific geotechnical engineer report to ensure the site is stable for development, along with professional recommendations for the construction. We recommend that you and your builder discuss these possibilities with your structural engineer.
If you have any further questions or would like further elaboration on the new Townsville City Plan, please contact us or comment below. The Oil Stone is always happy to hear from you.