Tactica Town Planning now Qualified under Planning Institute of Australia Pilot Program - May 2018

Originally posted May 2018.

Just a quick update to apprise you that Tactica’s Director of Planning Robert Patrick has been qualified as a Registered Planner under the recently unveiled qualification program by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA).

Good urban and regional planning can only be achieved by good planners – professionals with a broad but particular mix of skills and knowledge not found in other professions.  

It can sometimes be difficult for landowners, investors and developers to readily determine which planners represent excellence and integrity in their profession.

The PIA’s Registered Planner designation is a mechanism to identify and promote high-calibre planners.  The diverse skills and qualities of a planner are highly valued and sought after by employers, governments, clients and the wider community.

This RPIA designation unequivocally demonstrates Tactica’s competencies and their commitment to professional growth, development and ethical practice.

Our clients will now benefit from our:

  • Proven skills and competencies

  • Access to an expanded network of contacts and subconsultants

  • Recognition for our experience and areas of expertise

  • Industry recognition - both local and international

If you have any questions about the Registered Planner designation or about your town planning needs, please don’t hesitate to call Robert directly at 0478 793 629 or email at robert@tacticaplan.com.au.

Gold Coast City Plan Update - January 2018

Originally posted 31 January 2018.

Since South 28’s last update, the Council of the City of Gold Coast has proposed some interesting changes to the City Plan  They are expected to commence sometime around May/June 2018.  I will be sure to keep you all informed, and as always, if you have any questions on these or any other town planning policies, please don’t hesitate to write or call.

Small Lot Housing

Notably, minimum lot sizes in select Low Density Residential Neighbourhoods across the city have been decreased from 600 to 400 sqm. This means that in the past where only lots of 1200+ sqm could be subdivided (Code assessable) now lots between 800 and 1200 sqm can be subdivided as well.   

This will certainly lead to quite a few 1-into-2 lot subdivisions happening over the next 2 years, particularly amongst empty nesters and young families looking to supplement their incomes, and marks the city’s willingness to accept State direction to accommodate smaller lot housing types.  Along with this the city has initiated a Small Lot Housing review, whereby we expect clearer direction on planning and building parameters (i.e. setbacks, materials & finish, site cover, etc.)

Party Houses

As expected, Council is bearing down on party houses in the Gold Coast. The City Plan update will include definitions for "party house" use as well as the term "regularly use".  A mapped party house area will be established to identify where party houses are an envisaged use. Anywhere outside of this area, party houses are not envisaged and Impact Assessment is triggered.  

Because Council is now aligning the definitions with the City Plan, Council compliance officers will have greater ability to issue Show Cause Notices and fines to offenders in order to protect the amenity of established residential neighbourhoods.  How this will affect the holiday home investment market is yet to be determined.


Council is updating their Flood mapping to reflect up-to-date data and State Government criteria, with consequential changes to the Flood code to ensure workability.  This will raise minimum floor levels in flood prone areas and may prevent development altogether in heavily prone areas. Generally, this is accepted as a basic health and safety policy update, reflective of the latest data.

Burleigh Heads Village Character

Concerned that demand for property in ‘Burleigh Village’ has begun to change the look and feel, Council has proposed policies that seek to “retain and reinforce the character of the Burleigh Heads Village area”. Generally, they will address the protection of key views and visual settings, maintain cross-block links and laneway activation, and protect the James Street character and function. In my experience, these types of policies effectively limit very large single developments whilst allowing smaller infill projects to proceed at a scale and scope that is more in keeping with the existing neighbourhood character. Not a good one for the big developers.

The Economics of Subdivision - January 2017

Originally posted 27 January 2017. I'm often asked about costs and timing related to the Land Subdivision process in the Gold Coast, and given that serviced, vacant lots can command as much as much as $500k given their scarcity in the Gold Coast, I thought I'd dedicate this blog post to sharing with you the process involved for a typical 1-into-2 subdivision to create a vacant, serviced lot.  This can be used as a general guide so should you be interested in learning more, I'm available to discuss the particulars of your site.  

Preliminary Analysis

The first step is to determine if a site is able to be subdivided based on the provisions of the relevant plan or development scheme, in the first instance in relation to minimum lot size requirements. Assuming the proposed densities are appropriate, the next step is to look at the overlay mapping to determine what site constraints affect the site. 

These could include:-

- bushfire risk

- landslip risk

- environmental significance (e.g. vegetation, koala habitat, wetlands)

- flooding risk

Should a site be affected by any of these issues, an expert technical report could cost between $1000 and $4000.  The result would be analysis and reporting that will provide certainty to determining if a subdivision is able to proceed. 

Additional reporting/service costs will include:-

- Engineering services report (confirming water, sewer, power) -  $1500 to $4000

- Surveying - $1500 to $3000

- On-site Effluent Treatment reporting (if not on sewer) - $500 to $1500

- Town Planning - $5k to $10k depending on complexity

Total analysis costs are on the order of about $15k to $20k, and generally speaking this analysis  and documentation can be completed within about a month.

Lodging an Application

Council fees will range between $1500 to $4000 depending on complexity.  Timing for an approval can range from 5-20 days (Risksmart) to 3 months (Code Assessment) to 6 to 8 months (Impact Assessment).  Impact assessment, the highest level of assessment, requires public notification and Council must 'consider' any objections raised by the broader community. 


Once an approval to subdivide has been secured (i.e. decision notice) the single greatest expense to the owner/developer often relates to servicing the new lot.   Connections to water and sewer connections can be on the order of $20k per 20 linear metres. Power and telecommunications connections can cost about $4k to have connected. The surveyors final step in the process is the register the site plan with State, at which point a lot becomes saleable. 

Bottom Line

As a general rule, an owner interested in a subdivision on their site should budget $35k for a simple subdivision and up to as much as $70k for a more complicated reconfiguration of lot.  The entire process can take as few as 2 months, and up to 10 months or more.  However, given the price and scarcity of vacant serviced land within urban areas of the Gold Coast, this expense is often well worth the reward.

Notably, no development application is required for a primary dwelling on a newly created lot. 

If you have any questions about this process, or what can be done on your property, call Tactica on 5522 5063.