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Town Planning for Townhouse projects


A property is attractive to a developer when the zoning, their schedule and overlays are conducive for a fast planning approval.

​The number of townhouses a developer will achieve also  depends on the location of the land, aspect (site orientation), proximity to infrastructure, vegetation on and off site, neighbourhood character and site features to name a few.

Other key criteria to satisfy are the parking requirements as per Clause 52.06 of the local planning scheme, Garden area, site coverage, permeability, private and secluded open space, impact on amenities of neighbouring land, type of road the site abuts and  neighbourhood character to name a few.

An experienced planner will consider all these items when providing advice or when writing a planning report.

​The common residential Zoning are Residential Growth Zone, General Residential Zone and Neighbourhood Residential Zone.

Other zones include Township zone and others related to low density or farmland. There are zoning specific to commercial, mixed use and industrial.

​The Schedule to each residential zoning specifies certain criteria which should be satisfied- like setbacks, site overage, landscaping, open space type and size and others.

In some instances, the  number of units which can occupy the land is specified- these apply to the more restrictive Neighbourhood Residential Zone.

​Residential developments must comply with the relevant clauses of the Planning Scheme and the multiple  standards of Clause 55. Apartment projects must satisfy the new and very stringent Clause 58.

​Garden Area requirements MUST be satisfied in any residential development proposal. In the typical development site above 650sqm, the Garden Area must be a minimum of 35% of the land.  Smaller lots require 25% or 30% for garden area.

Our experience shows this requirement  really cramps up on the amount of developable land. In many cases we found the 35%  meant losing one townhouse!

​In theory, the  trade-off for the Garden Area  was an increase in height of the building. However, most councils would discourage going above two storeys in the mid to outer ring  outer suburbs as that would go against the Neighbourhood character of the area.

​Garden Area requirements do not apply to the  Residential Growth zones.

Parking is a major challenge for developers; as the number of units and number of bedrooms per unit is governed by the number of parking spaces to be provided in the design.


In some instances,  Councils might vary the parking requirements; however, that is generally not common in the typical townhouse/dual occ type development. Councils traffic engineers are playing a key role in the decision-making process.

Visitor parking, open spaces per dwelling and driveway design all chew up valuable developable land.

In some zoning schedules, each dwelling must be provided with 80 sqm. of open space which  is almost the size of the unit's footprint! Most zoning require 40 sqm of open space with specific dimension.

Planning overlays control design, building height, vegetation and  materials  to name a few.  Those affected by a Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO)  will require a BMO consultant's report. Designing in a BMO affected site will require consent from the CFA.

Planners take into account any restrictions on the property title, front and other boundary setbacks, exact shadowing impacts on neighbouring lots, heritage, flooding, fauna flora to name just a few standards and policies to  consider when designing any project.

Property subdivision advice by registeredd town planner

Our Founder is a Registered Planner.


He has a University degree in Architecture and is affiliated with the Australian Institute of Architects, The Planning Institute of Australia and the Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association.

While consulting to developers and architects he managed over 250 successful planning permits.

Swarup will provide a high level opinion on the development potential of a property. Contact him for your complimentary Property Analysis.

Please complete the form below- he will respond with 48 hours or call him on

0448 170132- 7 days- 9am to 7pm


This article covers the planning requirements which determine the size of each ownhouse.

Its a quick read on our blog.

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