Divide and Conquer: The Council Approval Process for Subdividing Land

Subdivision of land in Queensland is the process of dividing a single parcel of land into two or more smaller lots, each with its own title.


This can be done for a variety of reasons, such as creating new residential or commercial developments, or simply to sell off smaller portions of a larger property.


While the process of subdivision can be complex and time-consuming, it can also provide significant benefits to landowners and communities, such as increased land values, improved access to services and amenities, and greater housing choice and affordability.

Table of Contents

Types of Subdivision

In Queensland, there are several types of subdivisions, which are also known as Reconfigurations of a Lot (ROLs), each with their own specific requirements and regulations. Some of the most common types of subdivisions in Queensland include:

  • Subdivision of land: This involves dividing a larger parcel of land into two or more smaller lots, each with its own title.
  • Boundary realignment: This involves adjusting the boundaries of existing lots to create new boundaries and potentially increase the size of the lots.
  • Amalgamation: This involves combining two or more adjacent lots into a single larger lot.
  • Community title scheme: This involves creating a shared ownership structure for a group of properties, such as a townhouse complex or apartment building.
  • Building format plan: This involves dividing a larger property into smaller lots, each with its own building or structure on it, such as a duplex or townhouse.
JREY® Approval Example: Boundary realignment approved to enable retention of a character house and construction of a new build.

How to identify land that can be subdivided

The ability to subdivide land in Queensland depends on a number of factors, including the size and shape of the property, its location, and any existing zoning and land use regulations. Here are some ways to identify whether land can be subdivided:


  1. Check the property zoning: Each property in Queensland is assigned a specific zoning designation, which outlines the permitted land uses and development standards for the area. 
  2. Review any overlays or constraints: In addition to zoning, there may be other planning constraints that apply to the property, such as environmental or heritage overlays.
  3. Determine minimum lot sizes: Local councils may have minimum lot size requirements for different zones, which can impact the ability to subdivide a property.
  4. Check infrastructure and service availability: Subdividing land typically requires the provision of infrastructure and services, such as water, sewerage, and electricity.
  5. Consult with JREY®: Consulting with a professional town planner can help identify whether a property is suitable for subdivision, and what the requirements and costs associated with the process may be.
See also  Prepare Your Own Development Application Without a Town Planner

How to determine minimum lot size: a step by step guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to determine the minimum lot size for subdivision. We have used Brisbane as the example Council area below, however you can follow the same steps for other QLD Council areas: 


Step 1: Check the property zoning: The first step is to check the zoning of the property in Brisbane. The Brisbane City Council has an online mapping tool called the City Plan interactive mapping, which allows you to search for the property’s zoning. You can access the tool through the council’s website.


Step 2: Review the planning scheme: Once you have identified the property’s zoning, you can review the Brisbane City Plan 2014, which outlines the development requirements and standards for each zone. The plan is available on the council’s website and provides information on minimum lot sizes, building height limits, setbacks, and other requirements.


Step 3: Determine the minimum lot size for the zone: The Brisbane City Plan 2014 specifies the minimum lot size for each zone. You can find this information in the table of the zone’s code. For example, if the property is zoned Low-Density Residential, the minimum lot size is generally 400 square metres.


Step 4: Check for any variations or overlays: Some zones or properties may have variations or overlays that affect the minimum lot size requirements. Review any relevant overlays or variations that apply to the property, such as bushfire overlay, heritage overlay, or neighbourhood plan, which may affect the minimum lot size requirement.


Example: Brisbane City Council nominate minimum lot sizes for subdivision in the Subdivision Code.

Proposal Plan Requirements

Whether you are proposing a 1 into 2 lot subdivision, boundary realignment or 50 lot subdivision you will need to have proposal plans prepared for Council submission. 

The QLD State government dictates basic plan requirements, however each Local Government may require additional plan notations. 

Below is a checklist of basic proposal plan requirements for a subdivision application:

JREY® Approval Example: Subdivision plan with overlay notatated for assessment.
JREY® Approval Example: Plan of Subdivision with easements notated.

How do QLD Council's assess subdivision applications?

It is rare for a subdivision to not require a code or impact assessable development application. 

All assessable development applications are processed through the DEVELOPMENT ASSESSMENT process which you can learn more about via this post on our Website. 

The general process can be broken down as follows however please talk to JREY® prior for site specific advice: 

  • Pre-lodgement consultation: Before lodging a development application, it is recommended to consult with the local council to discuss the proposal and any relevant regulations or guidelines.
  • Lodgement of application: Once the application is lodged with the local council, it will be checked for completeness and may require further information or documentation.
  • Public notification: The council will usually notify surrounding property owners and the wider community of the development proposal, inviting submissions and feedback.
  • Assessment: The council will assess the development application against relevant planning laws, policies, and guidelines, as well as any submissions or feedback received during public notification.
  • Conditions and approvals: If the development application is approved, the council may impose conditions that the developer must meet before and during construction. The council may also require various approvals and permits, such as building and plumbing permits.
  • Appeals: If the development application is refused or conditions are imposed that are not acceptable to the developer, they may have the right to appeal the decision to the relevant tribunal or court. 

How long does it take to get Subdivision Approval?

Development assessment timeframes for subdivision proposals will depend on the compliance of your project with the local planning scheme, how well documented the application package is and a range of other factors. 

Lucky for you JREY® has detailed how long it takes to obtain Council approval for subdivisions and other developments in this blog post. 

How much does subdivision cost in QLD?

In general, the costs involved in subdividing property in Queensland can include Application fees, Town Planner fees, Surveying costs, Infrastructure costs, Legal costs, and Construction costs.

JREY® has prepared a post specifically around the costs of development assessment which you can READ HERE