The list of potential project killers for a development is endless, but here’s a break down of some key issues and exactly how they could impact upon the development potential of a site.
If you see the word ‘Flood’ on a property, it is a huge red flag that requires further investigation. You can review the mapping on PropertEASE to see where the site may be affected but it’s also useful to go to your Local Council website and seeing if they provide any additional flooding information. For example, Brisbane has ‘FloodWise Property Reports’ and Moreton Bay have ‘Flood Check Reports’. These reports will identify exactly how impacted the site is by flooding and therefore how restrictive it might be on a development. Your whole site could go 5m underwater every 2 years or the corner of the site could go under 1cm every 100 years. It is always recommended to discuss flooding issues with a local hydraulic engineer to see how they could impact upon your prospective development.
Character / Heritage Buildings
‘Character’ and ‘Heritage’ are also keywords that should prompt further attention. Generally speaking, a ‘character’ or ‘heritage’ overlay will restrict the demolition or alteration of the existing building on the site. This may mean that the building would need to be fully retained as part of a subdivision or multiple unit developments. Dependent on the location or size of the ‘character’ building, it might completely stop a project from proceeding. For example, in the older suburbs of Brisbane a character house that cannot be moved or demolished will be sitting on two allotments. Always have a chat with a local town planner or heritage architect about any character overlays and how they could impact on a development.
‘Biodiversity’ and/or significant vegetation overlays (e.g. Environmental Significance) are regularly used to protect the native vegetation on an allotment. Thereby restricting the amount of developable land on a site. The PropertEASE mapping will identify these areas, however any future development may require specialist input from an ecologist.
A ‘Bushfire Hazard’ is another overlay that could become a major issue when attempting to increase the residential density in an area. If a property is within a risk/hazard area, Council may not allow you to intensify the density, as it increases the risk to the safety of people. PropertEASE mapping identifies the location of a Bushfire Hazard, however it’s always important to talk to a local Bushfire Consultant about the risks associated. It is more than likely that you will be required to get a bushfire hazard assessment.
Other than the obvious cautionary planning overlays, there are some other key issues to take into consideration when looking at a development site. The slope of a lot can greatly impact upon the development potential of a site. If the site is sloping towards the rear boundary, you may be required to get a lawful point of discharge for stormwater through an adjoining landowner. This can completely stop a project if the consent for the discharge cannot be obtained from the adjoining landowner. We always recommend looking for sites that slope towards the street frontage or towards some stormwater infrastructure.
The location of the infrastructure and services can also have major impacts on the development of a site. A Dial Before You Dig or PropertEASE search will identify the location of all infrastructure servicing the site. Either of these reports will confirm whether there is a major part of infrastructure running through the middle of a site and whether the sewer, stormwater, and water can be easily accessed.
About Author: Alexander Steffan (BUrbanEnvPlan) is the Director of Steffan Town Planning & has been a private consultant town planner in the Brisbane region for 14 years. Alex has a knack for innovation & has recently developed PropertEASE, which is an app that tells the user the development potential of any given property.