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 population growth, while protecting our enviable way of life. 

City Plan includes a variety of housing options to meet Brisbane residents’ diverse and changing needs. 

This page outlines how City Plan applies to new houses and house extensions in a residential zone, how to check if you require planning approval from Council and basic design requirements. 

Do I need approval to build or extend my house?

Council is keen to make it as easy as possible to plan the construction of or extension to your home.

A City Plan online property enquiry using the mapping tool can help you determine if the proposal requires Council approval.

You can also 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. 

This table provides information in regards whether you need approval to build or extend your house. The different categories include exempt, self-assessable, code assessable and impact assessable.


The proposed development does not need assessment against City Plan.

Accepted development, subject to requirements

For certain common development types you may not need to lodge a development assessment application (i.e it may be accepted development, subject to requirements which can be self-assessed). To check whether or not your application is accepted development, subject to requirements or requires a development assessment application, Council recommends you engage with an appropriately qualified professional.

Code assessable

You need to apply to Council to assess your assessable application against the relevant codes in City Plan. This application will not require public notification. 

Impact assessable

You will need to apply to Council to assess your application against the relevant codes in City Plan. Depending on the type of development, the assessment can range across all provisions of the City Plan. This application will need public notification (signage on site, notice in paper and letters to neighbours).

How do I complete an assessment myself?

In most cases, you can assess your own application by meeting the identified criteria of the Dwelling house code or Dwelling house (small lot) code and any relevant overlay codes and neighbourhood plan codes. If you meet the identified requirements, you do not need to lodge a development application with Council. 

Tips for determining if you need to lodge an application (accepted development, subject to requirements)

  • If you are checking to see if you need to lodge an application for the construction of or extension to your own home, we recommend you engage a building certifier or consultant to confirm that you can complete this assessment and do not need to apply to Council. 
  • A certifier must also approve any building work, such as extensions, before you start construction. This is separate to development approval. A building certifier checks that your proposed building work complies with the Building Act 1975 and associated standards. 
  • Visit the Queensland Building and Construction Commission website for more information about building approvals and building certifiers.

Do I need approval to add a deck to my property?

A deck is a great way to enjoy Brisbane’s sub-tropical lifestyle. If you are building a deck on your new house, Council considers the extension as part of the new building work and a separate application is not required. If you are building a deck onto an existing house, Council considers the addition to your property as an extension to a dwelling house and may be accepted development, subject to requirements or code assessable.

How do I find out what zones, overlays and neighbourhood plans affect my property?

Council has made it easy to find all the relevant information for your property when planning to extend or build a new house. City Plan online mapping tool allows you to view your property on a map to see the zones, overlays and neighbourhood plans that apply to your site. 

How do overlays and neighbourhood plans affect my proposed house development?

If overlays or neighbourhood plans apply to your property, you will need to consider these in designing your home. Some overlays such as the Heritage and the Wetlands overlays may require you to apply for Council approval – all of this information is available through Council’s City Plan online mapping tool, as detailed above. 


Mr Jones’ property is partly within the Waterway corridor overlay. To complete an assessment himself, Mr Jones’ building work must meet the acceptable outcomes of the Waterway corridor overlay code, such as setting his building back more than 15 metres from the waterway corridor centre-line and retaining the vegetation within the corridor. If he does not meet these criteria, Mr Jones would need to lodge a development application with Council.

What is the maximum house height, number of storeys and boundary setback you can build to without Council approval?

Council sets some basic design requirements for houses to ensure that they fit in with the surrounding area. 

For improved flood immunity and flexibility with housing design, the maximum house height has been raised to 9.5 metres and two storeys. Building up to 9.5 metres in height does not require development approval from Council however, you will need a building approval from a qualified building certifier. If you are proposing to build higher, you will need to seek Council approval.

Residential zone

Maximum roof height

Maximum number of storeys

Character residential (CR)

Low density residential (LDR)

Low-medium density residential (LMR1) (2 storey mix)

Low-medium density residential (LMR2) (2 or 3 storey mix)

Rural (RU)

Rural residential (RR)

Emerging community (EC)

Environmental management (EM)





9.5 metres






In other residential zones where there is a greater mix of dwelling types, such as apartments, the maximum roof height is 11.5 metres and three storeys – see table below.

Residential zone

Maximum roof height

Maximum number of storeys

Medium density residential zone

Low-medium density residential zone (LMR3) (Up to 3 storeys)


11.5 metres



Side boundary setbacks for dwelling houses on standard sized lots* vary according to the height of the building. These are set by the Queensland Development Code and are not included in the City Plan. Side boundary setbacks for dwelling houses on small lots** are identified in the City Plan. Boundary setbacks help with protecting privacy, property maintenance and amenity.

* A standard sized lot is one that is greater than 450 square metres, or for a rear lot greater than 600 square metres excluding the access way. 

** Small lots are less than 450 square metres or for a rear lot less than 600 square metres excluding the access way.

Do I need approval to build a Secondary Dwelling (granny flat)?

A secondary dwelling, also commonly used as a granny flat, can be a maximum of 80 square metres in size. You do not need to apply for Council approval as long as you meet the accepted development criteria in the Dwelling house code or Dwelling house (small lot) code

You will need to lodge a development application if:

  • the secondary dwelling is bigger than 80 square metres in size, or 
  • it is more than 20 metres from the main house, or
  • it does not comply with the acceptable outcomes in the Dwelling house code for a standard lot or Dwelling house (small lot) code for a small lot. 

More information and to lodge an application

You can lodge your application online using Council’s online lodgement service or in person at any Regional Business Centre (however when lodging by hard copy you will be charged a scanning fee). You may wish to engage a consultant town planner, surveyor or other appropriately qualified professional to prepare the application for you.

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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