What is Subdividing

Subdividing is when a piece of land is split into two or more pieces (ie separate lots). The process is controlled by the Local Council. Planning codes and procedures vary significantly between Councils and also between States and Territories, as do the relevant fees and charges.
Factors to Examine When Considering a Subdivision

  • Local Town Planning regulations
  • Land zoning restrictions
  • Minimum size of lots
  • Access to water and sewerage services
  • Setback requirements
  • Minimum building envelopes
  • Parks and open space
  • Easements
  • Vehicle access including Council refuse collection
  • Storm water management
  • Increased noise from new development
  • Environmental and heritage issues

Hidden Costs

A subdivision can take several months (and sometimes even years) to complete so you must factor in your holding costs such as:

  • Interest
  • Rates
  • Land maintenance – eg slashing and weed control

Many astute Developers make the purchase contract for the land subject to the acceptance of a Development Application Approval with Council. This is usually done with an Option Agreement (please contact one of our Property Solicitors for more information).

Dividing the Land

Before you rush out and build a new dividing fence in your backyard, you should firstly consult your Local Council for specific guidelines, as it is imperative that the property is divided correctly. Any errors at this stage will cause major problems further down the track.

The Process

Most Councils require a Development/Planning Application to be lodged, together with details and drawings of your proposal. A Town Planner or Surveyor can assist you with this process (we have consultants that we know and trust to assist with this), and they may also be able to give advice regarding conditions that the Council is likely to require.

Before lodgement of the Application, you can ask the Council for a pre lodgement meeting to discuss your subdivision and determine what issues will need to be addressed in the Application.

When the Council receives your Application, they may require you to erect a notice board for public viewing. The purpose of the board is to alert the public of the proposal by providing details of the subdivision. The Council may also write to the owners of the neighbouring properties advising of your intentions. We suggest that you contact the Council to find out what procedures your Local Council uses.

Additional Information the Council May Require

Water & Sewerage:

  • Are existing services available ?
  • Can the existing infrastructure cope with increased use or need upgrading ?
  • Is permission required from neighbours to access property ?

Storm Water

  • How will storm water run off be managed ?
  • Is a drainage pit required ?
  • Are tanks required to regulate the flow of storm water ?


  • Will existing main road traffic noise affect the subdivision ?
  • If so, how will this be reduced ? (Fences and/or earthworks)

Soil Conditions

  • Do the soil conditions (eg sand / clay) impact on road and footpath design ?

Other Issues

  • Footpath
  • Lighting
  • Signage

Issues for the Developer to Consider

For the Developer there are also other issues to consider such as:

  • Wasted land due to unusual configurations
  • Steep slopes
  • Flood-prone land and bushfire prone land
  • Other planning overlays (ie restrictions)
  • Other factors that may reduce the number of lots and so profitability

Approval of the Development Application

The approval process for your Application may take several months depending on the complexity and size of the subdivision. You will then be issued with a conditional approval covering topics such as:

  • Developer to supply a plan of survey and mark land with survey pegs
  • Road reserve
  • Easements over stormwater, water and sewage mains
  • Requirement that storm water pipes be designed to cope with a 1 in 100 year event
  • Dust control
  • Hours of permitted work (usually Mon – Sat 7.00 am to 5.00 pm)
  • Headwork contributions to be paid by Developer – open space (parks), social infrastructure, road infrastructure, water infrastructure, sewerage infrastructure, street scape contribution
  • Disposal of cleared vegetation
  • Entry walls or features
  • Connection fees to live sewer mains
  • Road (width, pavement depth, footpaths, kerb and channel, ramp profiles)
  • Street lighting
  • Underground electricity and phone
  • Erosion and silt management
  • Maintenance period of roads
  • Retaining walls

Final Stage

All civil work will require Council and Engineering Certification. When the subdivision has been completed to the satisfaction of the Council, you can then apply to register each separate Title Deed.

Land subdivision requires thorough research which is necessary in order to balance the level of risk associated and ensure that the process runs as smoothly and quickly as possible, and that the best, most profitable outcome is achieved.

Solari & Stock can provide advice and assistance in relation to any proposal you may be considering regarding subdivision. Please feel free to contact one of our experienced property solicitors to discuss how we can help you through this complicated process.