Home-based businesses

Brisbane City Plan 2014 (City Plan) has been developed by Brisbane City Council in consultation with the community to support a simple, fast and clear development assessment process. The plan guides how land in Brisbane can be used and developed to support economic growth, while protecting our city’s enviable lifestyle.

Operating a business from your home offers a flexible, convenient and affordable option. Council recognises the value small businesses create for our city’s economy and has made it quicker and more affordable to set up a home-based business. 

This page outlines how City Plan applies to setting up a home-based business and whether you need to lodge a development application. 

What is a home-based business?

Council is dedicated to providing options for small businesses. A home-based business can operate from a townhouse, apartment or house where the business is secondary to the residence. 

Examples of a home-based business: 

  • home office
  • bed and breakfast
  • home-based childcare. 

Examples of a business that does not qualify as home-based:

  • mechanic workshop
  • shop
  • transport depot
  • cafe
  • industry.

Assessing your home-based business application

To see if you need to lodge an application with Council, you can assess your home-based business proposal using criteria outlined in Section 9.3.10 Home based business code in City Plan.

To make things easier for home-based businesses, Council has identified a number of criteria which if met, mean that the use is accepted development, subject to requirements and there is no need to lodge a planning application. To ensure that the use meets the accepted development requirements, you should undertake a self-assessment of the criteria.

To be accepted development, subject to requirements* you need to:

  • be a permanent resident of the townhouse, apartment or house
  • conduct the business from inside your house, garage or shed
  • have no more than one non-resident employee if the business is run in a house, and no non-resident employees in other kinds of dwellings such as apartments or townhouses
  • have a business which takes up no more than 50 square metres or 30 per cent of the total floor area, whichever is less**
  • have a business suitable for residential areas
  • manage any potential impacts, such as traffic, visitors, car parking, noise and odour, for as long as your business operates
  • have no signs unless required by law to identify a registered business. If a sign is required, it is to be no larger than 0.6 square metres
  • limit hours of operation and deliveries. 

If your home-based business does not meet all of these requirements, you may need to lodge a development application.

* Refer to Section 9.3.10 Home Based Business Code in City Plan for the full list of criteria that must be satisfied to run a home-based business from your home.

** Some businesses such as bed and breakfasts, farm stays, home-based childcare and dog day care, may use a greater area.

How to check if you need Council approval to set up your home-based business

Not all home-based businesses need Council approval. To help you determine if the proposal requires Council approval you can: 

  • carry out a City Plan online mapping enquiry
  • phone Council on 07 3403 8888 during business hours and ask to speak to a Planning Information Officer.

While Council aims to assist you through the process, you may wish to engage a consultant, town planner, surveyor or other appropriately qualified professional for help with your building or development project. 

For help with an application, go to Council’s advice area on Preparing an application.

How can Council help your business?

Council has a number of initiatives to help you with your business.

  • 133 BNE: Council’s dedicated hotline will help you with your business-related queries. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 
  • Brisbane Community profiles: An online tool to provide you with accurate and up-to-date social, economic and demographic information for any area in Brisbane. This will help you to understand your local customers, make informed, strategic decisions and identify new areas to grow your business.
  • Pre-lodgement service: Council’s pre-lodgement service allows you to meet with a Council officer to ask questions, explore options and confirm requirements before finalising and lodging your development application. The service is available for a fee and can also be done using video conferencing.

Tips for setting up your home-based business

  • Check for other regulations and licences you may need for your proposed business, such as:
    • a food business licence from Council if you are preparing food, for example a bed and breakfast
    • body corporate rules and regulations
  • If you need help lodging a development application, a consultant town planner can help by preparing a development application for you.
  • A private certifier must approve any building work, such as extensions. This is separate to Council's development approval for a home-based business. 
  • Phone Council's dedicated business hotline, 133 BNE (133 263), for support and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

More information

For more information:

Disclaimer: The content on this page is a summary and has been prepared to assist the reader to understand City Plan. Please refer to the full City Plan document, entitled Brisbane City Plan 2014, via City Plan online for further detail.

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