Understanding Land Zoning: A Step-by-Step Guide to Development Potential

July 24, 2023

Land zoning is set out by the State and Local Government to regulate the density and types of development within certain areas. Land zoning can be residential, industrial, commercial, environmental and for infrastructure, like main road and rail. These zones are carefully planned by state and local governments so we don’t have a residential building located within a loud industrial area or any other unpleasant mixes of use that should be kept separate. This article covers a step-by-step process on how find this information to determine what can be built within the zone of your property.

Do you know how to check the land zoning of a property and find out what type of development can be built out on it?

Information on how to do this is publicly available for NSW land owners in the NSW Planning Portal

NSW Planning Portal

Step 1: Logging onto the NSW Planning Portal Spatial

Although the section 10.7 planning certificate is the best way to gather information on a property, there is a lot of information readily available online. Using the NSW Planning Portal Spatial Viewer, you can find out a lot of information about a property, including the zoning.

Step 2: Finding the Land Zoning

After searching the address of your property, you will see on the right side of the page, a list of search results. One of those search result will be Land Zoning Map. Clicking on this will reveal the zoning of the property and give you a link to the Council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

Step 3: The Local Environmental Plan

The LEP is a legal document that provides regulations around what can and cannot be built on a property. The zoning of a property is one way the LEP does this.

Once you have opened the link to the LEP, you will see the contents on the left side of the page. What you will be looking for is the Land Use Table. This will give you a list of all the zones within the Local Council area.

From here, if you click on the zone of the property (in this case Zone R3 Medium Density Residential) and it will take you to the part of the LEP which describes the Objective of the zone, what is Permitted without consent (Council approval), what is Permitted with consent and what is Prohibited to be built in this zone.

The parts you will be interested in are the Permitted with consent and Prohibited. This is where you will find what types of development would be supported by Council to be built on the property.

NSW Planning Portal Land Use Table

As you can see in the example below, it doesn’t list secondary dwelling (granny flat) in Permitted with consent or Prohibited.  In this case you would refer to Permitted with consent section that states, Any other development not specified in item 2 or 4. As a secondary dwelling is not list in item 2 (Permitted without consent) or item 4 (Prohibited), a secondary dwelling is then Permitted with consent and can be proposed on this property by lodging a Development Application (DA) with the Local Council.

NSW Planning Portal R3 Planning Example

You need to also be aware that a secondary dwelling can fall under the category of Residential Accommodation. If you do see Residential Accommodation in Permitted with consent and a secondary dwelling is not listed in Prohibited, then this would also mean the zone allows a secondary dwelling. The same applies with dual occupancies and multi dwelling housing.

The above only applies to proposing a secondary dwelling as a DA through Councils LEP and Development Control Plan (DCP). Remember, the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) Housing 2021 will allow secondary dwellings in the zones R1, R2, R3, R4 and R5 even if the Council’s LEP prohibits it.

Need Some Expert Help?

Knowledge is non-negotiable. Our Design Consultant will measure out your site and help you fully understand the possibilities for your block, and be able to discuss in detail your options for a CDC or Development Application. When you’re planning to build, you want assurance that your site is suitable, and that you are not going to be impacted mid-build by unforeseen or surprise costs. We provide a thorough, free, upfront feasibility study for your Granny Flat which gives you an assured green light to build.

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About Vince Zinghini

Vince is Cubitt's Director of Planning. With two decades experience in NSW and ACT Council planning and a team of people covering the specific areas in which Cubitt's build, its rare to find a planning scenario we haven't been able to tackle.