Planners perspective: Granny Flats (updated)


It seems to be really popular at the moment to build granny flats.  Traditionally subdividing and building a new dwelling at the rear of properties was popular however this can be cost and time consuming.  A few years ago the Residential Design Codes (R-Codes) removed the need to allow for only family members to reside in these buildings.  So now granny flats can be rented out for extra cash and can be a fraction of the cost of subdividing.  Ancillary Accommodations which the R-Codes likes to call them can be install of properties that may not be subdivided.

However if you are planning on building one there are a few things you need to consider before you head down this road.  These include the following and are based on the requirements of the Residential Design Codes.  

Property type

The R-Codes requires that Granny flats are located on a single house.  A single house means one house on one lot with no shared common property.

Site area

The minimum site area needs to be 450m2.  If you have a property smaller than that chances are your granny flat will not be approved.

Building size

The size of the granny flat can only be 70m2.  It includes all the area of any internal and external walls but does not include areas of any stairs, machinery, air condition and equipment rooms, space that is wholly below the natural ground level, areas used exclusively for parking of wheeled vehicles or at below natural ground level, storerooms, lobbies, bin storage areas and passageways to bin storage areas, or balconies, eaves, verandahs, courtyards and roof terraces.

Car parking bays

Needs to provide an additional 1 parking bay for the granny flat if it has only 1 bedroom or 2 parking bays if it has more than 2 bedrooms.  This can change if the property is located 800m from a train station or 250m from a high frequency bus route in which case only 1 additional parking bay is required for the granny flat.

Other requirements to consider:

  • Setbacks to the boundary
  • Open space (both the granny flat and the house)
  • Building height
  • Access to vehicle parking
  • Site works/retaining
  • Stormwater management
  • Privacy (if only over 500mm above the  natural ground level)

The above are only R-Code requirements however many Councils’ have their own requirements regarding Ancillary accommodation (Granny Flats) for their area.  An application for planning approval for a granny flat is needed to be submitted to most Councils within the State.   In addition, the Building Codes of Australia also has requirements for granny flats and any proposed  development will need a building permit from the relevant Council.

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