Can I Subdivide My Backyard?

Council will generally not approve a subdivision application unless the site has an approved Development Permit. Further to a Development Permit, a Subdivision Permit is also required.

What is a Development Permit?

In most cases (such as “back yard” subdivisions under 500m²) a planning permit for development will need to be issued first. This process ensures that any new lots created are suitable for residential development and subdivision.

The purpose of the Development Permit is to demonstrate that land can be built on, that new development meets the requirements of Council’s Planning Scheme, in particular Clause 55, and that designs are based on good urban design principles. The permit process looks at things such as:

  • Building heights and setbacks from boundaries
  • Overshadowing of adjoining lots
  • Car parking requirements for new and existing dwellings
  • Private outdoor spaces for the existing and proposed dwellings
  • Impact on adjoining properties and future occupants

Further information on Clause 55 and council planning schemes can be found at . Development permit applications are generally managed by a town planner, architect or designer.


Any form of Subdivision can only be done by a Licensed Land Surveyor. Upon issue of your development permit an application for a Subdivision Permit will follow.

There are three main stages to a Subdivision Permit which may take several months to complete:

  1. Permit – Permit application for Subdivision is generally lodged by your Land Surveyor. Once received, Council will then refer the application to the servicing authorities (water, sewer, gas electricity etc) for assessment of their requirements. Once issued, the Subdivision Permit will list any conditions to be met prior to issue of Statement of Compliance. Some of these conditions may require you to carry out works or to pay bonds in lieu of works and may also attract additional fees.
  2. Certification – Subdivision plans are lodged by a licensed Land Surveyor for Certification generally at the same time as the permit application for Subdivision. The Subdivision Plan is then endorsed by Council if it is in accordance with the development permit and drawings.
  3. Statement of Compliance (SOC)– Once all conditions on the development permit and subdivision permit are met a Statement of Compliance will be issued by Council. Upon issue of SOC, an application for registration can be lodged with Land Victoria by your solicitor or conveyancer. New titles are then issued and the lots can be sold.

Subdivision is possible even if you do not wish to carry out the construction of the dwellings. Upon issue of the Development Permit and subsequent Subdivision Permit application, a condition in the permit may allow for you to enter into an agreement with Council under Section 173 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to ensure that development occurs as per the endorsed plans or any requirements for infrastructure works required by a permit condition. The agreement will need to be attached to current title and will also be attached to any new title following.

To obtain more detailed advice, please contact VicLand Surveying, your “back yard’ subdivision expert on 9331 4266.