Can I subdivide my property in Victoria?

If you are a homeowner or are looking at purchasing a property you may be considering subdividing the land.  But what is the process to see if you are eligible and what are the subdivision rules in Victoria? This article will explain the factors that determine whether or not your lot can be subdivided.

State and Local Planning controls: Zone, Schedules and Overlays

The first factor to consider is what victorian state and local planning rules governing subdivision of land apply to your property?

All land is zoned for particular uses, and residential areas in Melbourne and Victoria will be zoned as one of the following:

Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ)

General Residential Zone (GRZ)

Residential Growth Zone (RGZ)

Low Density Residential Zone (LDRZ)

Each of these different zones will have schedules that apply to them which are further controls for subdivision of land. Each zone will have different requirements when it comes to subdivision such as a minimum lot size to subdivide.  It is important that you find out which zone your property falls under along with any applicable schedule.

For example if you are in a Low Density Residential Zone subdivision is usually only permitted if the two new lots are at least 4000m2 each. This means that if you were keeping your existing property and building another house at the back your original lot would have to be 8000m2 in order to subdivide the land and make two lots that fit the requirement of the zone.

However in the more common residential zones such as the Neighbourhood Residential Zone and the General Residential Zone (GRZ) you need far less land to subdivide. Residential Growth Zone (RGZ) have been earmarked for more diverse and intensive development particular when there is good access to services and transport. This therefore enables lots to be subdivided into smaller sizes with more units than other zones. There is usually no minimum size for subdivision in victoria but generally blocks in excess of 600 square metres are fit for subdivision.

Along with the zone and schedules your site may be affected by overlays which apply special controls that may impact the subdivision of the site.  For example a Heritage Overlay protects a place of heritage significance or an Environmental Significance Overlay protects certain trees and vegetation. These can affect your subdivision.

The process for governing the subdivision of land in victoira is set out in the 1988 subdivision act. The Act governs the timeframes council and referral authorities have to process subdivision applications and also what conditons they can impose on subdivision applicants.  

You can find out this information by contacting the planning department of your local council.

Is your site big enough to subdivide?

You must have enough space to subdivide in order to create a new lot.  The amount of space you need will depend on the zone, schedule and any overlays affecting the property. But you must also calculate the area of your site to know exactly what is achievable. To check if you have a large enough block to subdivide click here.

The minimum garden requirement will also affect whether you can subdivide and how many lots you can create. The requirement specifies the percentage of land that must be used as garden area. This is to protect the character of a suburb and prohibit over development of a site.

The minimum garden area requirement applies to land in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone and General Residential Zone and must be met when:

• constructing or extending a dwelling or a residential building; or

• subdividing land to create a vacant residential lot less than 400 square metres in area.

For example if you have a 900m2 lot and are subdividing it into three units that are 300m2 each then each new lot has to be made up of 25% garden area in order for the subdivision to be allowed.

Neighbourhood Character and dual occupancy Victoria

Local council strategic planning policies, neighbourhood character guidelines and local planning preferences are all factors that will be taken in account by council.

If there have been recent approvals of subdivisions in your area then this sets a neighbourhood precedent. You are more likely to have your subdivision project approved if it’s similar to other developments in the immediate area.

In addition a new development has to be in keeping with the neighbourhood character of the area and is accessed on this basis.

Does your property have a covenant preventing subdivision?

Make sure that your property does not have a restrictive covenant attached to it.

Some covenants such as a single dwelling restrictive covenant will prohibit subdivision. Although it is possible to vary a covenant in order to allow your lot to be subdivided, it is a risky process.

You can find out if your property has a restrictive covenant by looking at the title. If you find your property does have a covenant the full restriction will be included in the Section 32 that you would have received with the property when you purchased it.

Subdivision Checklist - Planning Clauses 55 & 56 & cost calculator

A subdivision development will be assessed through Clause 55 & 56 of the Victoria planning provisions of their planning scheme.

Clause 55 applies to two or more dwellings on a lot. It is made up of individual standards that must be met in the design of a multi unit development. Each standard has a specific objective or outcome that is being sought through a standard. The standards are commonlly known as Rescode and you can read them by clicking here.

Clause 56 to applies to all residential subdivision where there are no houses included as part of the subdivision. These are commonly known as vacant land subdivisions.

So when looking to subdivide your property in Victoria remember to research the following:

  • Planning zones, schedules and overlays that apply to your lot.
  • The land size of your property
  • Local planning policies and neighbour character guidelines
  • Whether your property has a restrictive covenant
  • Clause 55 & 56 to see how your development will be assessed

You can read our subdivision cost calculator here to find out what it costs to subdivide land and this also describes the subdivision process and steps.