Fences and Retaining Walls
The altering of natural ground levels, whether this entails fill placed on top of natural ground level or an excavation below natural ground level, will often require the construction of retaining walls. A development application will be required if the difference in levels being retained exceeds 1 metre. Generally the person who is undertaking the earthworks is responsible for obtaining development approval.
Fences require development approval only when they exceed the following criteria:
- greater than 2.1 metres in height from the finished ground level
- greater than 1.0 metre in height within 6 metres of an intersection other than where a 4 x 4 metre corner cutoff has already been provided
- a masonry fence or masonry pillars greater than 1.0 metre in height
- a swimming pool safety fence
- a brush fence within 3 metres of a dwelling
- Any fence located in a Heritage Conservation Area or a State or Local Heritage Place
In all other circumstances fences are a civil matter and are regulated under the Fences Act 1982.
Fences should be regarded as a joint asset between neighbours. Even if your neighbour has not paid for the fence they are still a joint owner. This is because a fence on the boundary is legally considered to be part of the land on each side.
If you intend to remove or alter an existing fence, you are required to have your neighbour's permission or a court order pursuant to the Fences Act.
If you want to construct a fence where there has not been one before, your neighbour has a right to object. It is therefore sensible to talk to your neighbour first.