Search

Bega Valley Shire CouncilBega Valley Shire Council

Earthworks and Retaining walls

Image of back garden with retaining walls.Earthworks, retaining walls and structural support

Earthworks (excavation/cut and fill) and structural supports (including retaining walls and other forms of structural support) are types of development that can be undertaken as exempt development, or complying development under a relevant part of the policy.

Earthworks and structural supports must be structurally adequate and installed in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications and comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

Additional approval from the council may be required if trees or other vegetation are pruned or removed.   

Earthworks and structural supports must:

  • not be carried out, constructed or installed on or in a heritage item or a draft heritage item and if in a heritage conservation area and draft heritage conservation area, may be carried out only as exempt development and only when constructed or installed in the rear yard.
  • not be carried out in an environmentally sensitive area, and
  • be separated from any other retaining wall on the site horizontally by at least 2m

In addition the following requirements specify how earthworks and structural supports are to be constructed: 

  • Works must have adequate drainage and not redirect water or sediment onto an adjoining property.
  • Be free of building and other demolition waste, and only contain virgin excavated natural material.

What are the standards for exempt development?

  • The works must not be carried out, constructed or installed on a flood control lot.
  • Earthworks and structural supports must not exceed 600mm above or below existing ground level.
  • If the works are fill that is more than 150mm deep it must not occupy more than 25% of the lot.
  • Works must be located at least 1m from any lot boundary, registered easement, sewer or water mains.
  • Works must be located at least 40m from any natural water body.

What are the standards for complying development?

Earthworks and structural supports that exceed 600mm above or below existing ground level may be approved by a private certifier as complying development. Standards for complying development ensure that any earthworks or structural supports:

must not be located over a registered easement.

  • within 1m of a side or rear boundary must not exceed more than 1m in height, and must not exceed 3m in height in any other location.
  • more than 600mm above or below ground level are contained by a structural support.
  • undertaken on acid sulfate soils, must not exceed more than 1m.

Additional requirements for complying development in residential areas

Earthworks and structural supports have the potential to cause damage to properties and additional standards will apply when undertaking works which exceed the exempt development restrictions.
In residential areas, retaining walls and other forms of structural support may also require certification by a professional engineer if:

  • more than 600mm above or below existing ground level and within 1m of a lot boundary, or
  • more than 1m above or below existing ground level in any other location

If works are within 40m of a natural water body, the maximum depth of excavation is limited to 1m.

Depth and separation

Excavation of certain depths must have a separation distance from a boundary in accordance with the following:

  • Distance from any boundary - Up to 1m = Maximum dept of excavaiton of 1m
  • Distance from any boundary - >1m to 1.5m = Maximum dept of excavaiton of 2m
  • Distance from any boundary - >1.5m = Maximum dept of excavaiton of 3m

Location and dimensions of fill

Fill is limited to a maximum height of 1m above existing ground level.

Adding fill around a dwelling house is a practical measure that may be in the form of a level platform or podium to provide a suitable transition to the backyard or other outdoor areas. This fill is limited to, and must be contained by either:

  • a retaining wall that does not extend more than 1.5m from any external wall of the dwelling house, or
  • an unprotected sloping embankment or batter that does not extend more than 3m from the dwelling house and where the toe of the embankment or better is more than 1m away from a side or rear boundary.

Additional requirements for complying development in commercial and industrial areas

Additional standards for earthworks and structural supports are also required for commercial and industrial development, are that the works must:

  • not be carried out on a lot that contains a dwelling house or that is a flood control lot
  • not be carried out within 40m of a natural water body
  • not result in more than 2m of fill being placed on a site.

If the development is either for a  new, or additions to an existing commercial or industrial building that has a boundary adjoining a rail corridor, all works must be setback at least 3m from that boundary.

Conditions of approval for complying development

All development must comply with the prescribed conditions contained in the EP&A Regulation 2000, and the standard conditions located in Schedule 7 of the policy.  All works must also comply with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia.

Further Information

For more information visit the Exempt and Complying Development Policy website  www.planning.nsw.gov.au/exemptandcomplying or contact the Department’s Exempt and Complying Development Team on 1300 305 695 or by email codes@planning.nsw.gov.au


Normally the owners of neighbouring properties must equally share the cost of building a sufficient dividing fence. Under the Dividing Fences Act, a retaining wall is part of a 'dividing fence' if it is necessary for the support and maintenance of the fence.

Visit NSW Government Justice Law Access for information on:

  • What is a retaining wall?
  • Who should pay?
  • What if we cannot reach an agreement?

 

Related Pages


Rate This Page


Share This Page

Explore Our Site