If you’re undertaking a substantial modification to your house or proposing to knock it down and rebuild, you’ll need to submit a development application or similar approval application to Council.
As part of the development assessment process, Council or the private certifier will look at the floor space ratio (FSR) of the application – the ratio of a building’s total floor area to the size of the land upon which it is built. They will check to make sure that the development is in compliance with FSR controls and assorted other building controls that relate to that lot.
Generally speaking, the total floor area includes the internal area of all habitable rooms across every level of a building, but does not include open terraces or balconies.
An allied matter to FSRs is that a certain percentage of a site must be landscaped area.
Different Councils have different regulations regarding landscape area percentages, and these percentages also vary for the type of development being proposed.
An important site planning aspect to look out for in the wording of Council policies for landscape area percentages is whether the percentages they stipulate are just for ‘landscape area’ (which may be able to include hard paved areas and pools) or if they say, for example, ‘deep soil landscape area’ (which are areas that must be able to be planted).
For example, Lane Cove Council states that:
“For most types of development in Lane Cove, a percentage of the total site area is required to be ‘landscaped areas’. The ‘landscaped areas’ includes private open space and swimming pools, but does not include paved areas such as driveways……”,
……..but one of their charts – below – expresses ‘landscaped area’ as being ‘deep soil’ only.
Sutherland Council states that:
“The required landscape area of a site can be constrained by a control specifying the minimum required landscaped area defined as a percentage of the total site area”.
Their zonal chart – below – just describes ‘landscape area’, without referring to ‘deep soil’ plantable area.
Make sure your architect or project manager is aware of the landscape space controls that relate to your property. If in doubt about Council’s terminology for inclusions and exclusions within a minimum percentage figure, check with Council’s landscape officer.
Ari Anderson is a landscape architect, specialising in residential design and planning. To engage Ari to design a garden that will inspire and add value to your property, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 0412133472