How to get around the ban on townhouses in Brisbane’s suburbs

Brisbane Townhouse Development Application Approved

On 11 February 2020, Brisbane City Council officially adopted Major amendment package H (Citywide amendment – Restricting townhouses from single-home areas) which came into effect as part of the Brisbane City Plan 2014 v19.00/2020 on 1 May 2020.

Hickey Oatley Planning & Development strongly opposed this amendment, which removed all provisions from the City Plan supporting the development of townhouses on suitably sized and located sites within the Low density residential zone (LDRZ).

The consequence of this is, only Dwelling houses on lots >400m2 can now be developed within the LDRZ or, Dual occupancies on lots >3,000m2 – which makes no logical or financial sense.

While this is a devastating outcome for housing choice and affordability in our City, those who own land which previously met the size and locational requirements for townhouses in the LDRZ still have an opportunity to realise the site’s development potential.  Specifically, they have until 30 April 2021 to submit a request to Council seeking to lodge an application under the superseded planning scheme (Brisbane City Plan 2014 v18.00/2019) arguing they should otherwise be entitled to compensation should Council decide not to agree to the request.

While Council have in the past year refused a number of development applications for townhouses in the LDRZ, the P & E Court’s ruling in the case of YQ Property Pty Ltd v Brisbane City Council & Ors on 24 February 2020 is of particular assistance.  This case involved an appeal against a refusal of a development application for townhouses in the LDRZ.  The appeal was allowed subject to the imposition of appropriate lawful conditions.   In summary:

  • The development application sought approval for 25 townhouses on a 6,859m2 LDRZ site in Holland Park.
  • This development application was lodged on 8 January 2019 – 4 months after Council resolved to make Major Amendment Package H.
  • The application was subject to Impact assessment and received over 130 submissions.
  • On 17 April 2019, Council refused the application on the grounds that it “would be of unacceptable height, bulk, scale, form, character, intensity and incorporate inadequate separation of buildings; would be inconsistent with community expectations and would significantly impact on the immediate area to an unacceptable degree”. This position reflected the Temporary Local Planning Instrument that Council proposed at the time trying to ban townhouses in the LDRZ.  After the TLPI was rejected by the State Government, the same provisions were incorporated into Major Amendment Package H.
  • Judge Everson overruled Council’s refusal and approved the 23 townhouse development (a minor change was made during the proceedings to drop 2 townhouses) concluding the development substantially complied with the relevant assessment benchmarks in the City Plan. In their judgement, Judge Everson also noted that “the appellant would have the right to make a superseded planning scheme request once Package H took effect preserving their development rights, or entitling them to compensation should Council decide not to agree to the request”.


The Take Home: If you currently own land which meets the former size and locational requirements for townhouses in the LDRZ, you must act now to preserve your development rights.  Given Council’s position and the sentiment of some in the community, we would recommend any proposal be well-designed and as compliant as possible with the Multiple dwelling code.

If you have a site located in the LDRZ which is equal to or greater than 3,000m2, contact us today to explore the opportunity and to devise a strategy to obtain development approval.

Mia Hickey

Author Mia Hickey

Mia is the Director and Principal Town Planner at Hickey Oatley Planning & Development. Mia is a passionate and driven professional, who has experience leading a wide variety of planning and development projects, establishing a key expertise in the facilitation of major development projects from inception through to delivery. With her many years’ experience, Mia has developed an in-depth knowledge of the Planning Act and the commercial realities which underpin a successful project. Mia maintains a focus to continuing professional development and is currently a participant in the Property Council of Australia’s 500 Women in Property initiative.

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