Subdivision of land – the approval process

Subdivision of land @ wealthruproperty.com

Vacant land - corner Conquest Drive & Blossom Lane, Werribee, Melbourne

The process of subdividing land requires the approval of both the local Council and relevant utilities such as the water authority. For property owners who are not experienced in submitting a Development Application (DA) or Planning Application (as it is called in Victoria), it may be worth considering professional advice and assistance in dealing with the myriad of regulations and requirements of local councils. Each council, although having similar responsibilities in regulating development approval, have their own processes and conditions in approving applications for subdivision and development.

Professional advice include the services of town planners, registered quantity and building surveyors, architects and specialist property development firms which provide services such as site assessment, quantifying and estimating subdivision and building costs as well as project management services to ensure efficient and effective build quality and process. Brutal Art Design + Build or BAD + B is one such property development firm which helps home owners and investors to obtain approval for DAs and permits and minimise the risks involved in subdivision and property development. BAD + B is an award-winning firm based in Melbourne.

I have chosen the Melton Shire Council as an example to illustrate the application process.

The first point of contact is the Melton Council’s Planning and Development unit. Every subdivision that is approved by Council will have restrictions attached which vary according to each individual site. Whilst it is possible to subdivide land prior to obtaining approval to develop the land, most local Councils prefer approval to be obtained for development before applying for the subdivision.

Especially for residential subdivision, subdivision will generally only be approved if a planning permit has been issued for a multi dwelling development. This is because Councils want to ensure first and foremost that an appropriate development can be accommodated on the smaller lots after subdivision.

A licensed Land Surveyor is generally required to prepare plans for subdivision and other information required for a subdivision planning application and for the certification process under the Subdivision Act 1988.

The subdivision process occurs in 4 main stages and must be undertaken in this order:

  1. A planning permit is required for subdivision under the provisions of the Council;
  2. Certification of the plan of subdivision, which approves the subdivision under the Subdivision Act 1988;
  3. Obtaining a Statement of Compliance, which is the final approval stating that all requirements have been met; and,
  4. Lodgment of the documents at Land Victoria. This allows new titles to be issued for each lot created under the subdivision.

Stage 1 – Planning Permit

An application for a planning permit must be made with the Council’s Planning and Development unit for the consideration of the subdivision. Details of the planning permit application process can be found in the ‘How to complete planning permit application form’ Information Guide. The processing of an application to subdivide will sometimes include the referral of the application to external authorities such as utility companies (water, gas and electricity) for their consideration. These authorities often require conditions to be placed on any planning permit issued.

Stage 2 – Certification

Once the planning permit has been issued by council, the application for certification can be considered.
An application for certification must include:

  • An application form;
  • The applicable application fee;
  • Twelve (12) copies of the plan of subdivision (A4 size) and
  • Two (2) A3 heavyweight copies of the plan of subdivision.

The plan of subdivision must be prepared by a licensed Land Surveyor. An application for certification must be referred to the relevant authorities (e.g. water, gas, electricity, roads etc.) to ensure that the subdivision is appropriate. Once
all authorities have provided their consent to certify the plans, the plan of subdivision can be certified by Council.

Stage 3 – Statement of Compliance

A Statement of Compliance will be issued when the Land Surveyor has provided relevant documents and that all planning permit conditions have been complied with, all authorities have provided their consent that all their requirements have been satisfied.

Stage 4 – Lodgement

Once the Certified Plan of Subdivision and the Statement of Compliance have been issued to the licensed Land Surveyor, the plan can be lodged with Land Victoria enabling the issue of new certificates of title.

Public open space requirements

To ensure there are sufficient public open spaces for residents of the local community, subdividers may be required to contribute funds to assist in the purchase of land for public open spaces and the improvement of and ongoing maintenance of facilities in parks, ovals and other public open spaces within the municipality. Alternatively a portion of the subject land can be set aside to be used for such purposes. A subdivider is generally required to contribute to public open space if the land will be subdivided into more than two lots, or into two lots where either can be further subdivided at a later stage.

Open space contributions may vary between the types of subdivisions being carried out and the number of lots to be created, though can generally be up to 5% of the land value/size. Higher percentages may apply in specific areas of the
municipality.

Works

Depending upon the subdivision, work, such as vehicular crossings, road, drainage and general services provisions may be required to be constructed prior to the issue of a Statement of Compliance.

Fees

Throughout the subdivision process there are a number of fees required. Fees include, but are not limited to:

  • Planning Permit Application fee;
  • Certification Application fee;
  • Open space contributions;
  • Service authority fees and / or costs;
  • Land Victoria fees for lodgment of Certified Plans;
  • Works supervision fees;
  • Maintenance of works bonds; and,
  • Professional fees for relevant parties (e.g. licensed Land Surveyor).

Fees and costs generally depend upon the type and size of the subdivision.

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