About the low-to-medium density residential design guide

Brisbane City Council has developed the Low-to-medium density residential Design Guide, for anyone interested in the design and development of low-to-medium density residential dwellings. 

Brisbane is a growing city with around 1300 additional people a month living here *. Our established neighbourhoods will continue to change and adapt to ensure homes are available to cater for all types of lifestyles in our city including families, couples, single-persons, groups and multi-generational households. Townhouses and mid-rise apartments (up to five storeys) will continue to be built in suitable locations throughout Brisbane. It is important that homes are designed to a quality that contributes to creating great places and spaces for Brisbane to be proud of, and for the community to enjoy now and into the future.

The guide is intended to be a reference document to:

  • guide best-practice design outcomes
  • support the preparation of plans, drawings and design statements that may accompany a development application
  • help the community, including potential buyers, to identify quality housing design
  • encourage innovation and diversity of housing in Brisbane neighbourhoods.

Community feedback

Council sought feedback on the draft design guide from 7 August until 16 September 2019. Feedback received from the community, including industry, was largely positive and recognised that achieving quality design was related to both the process applied to designing built form as well as the outcomes to be delivered.

A range of matters were raised in the feedback including:

  • support for structuring the guide around design process and elements
  • requests to use more images that demonstrate and celebrate quality design outcomes across Brisbane
  • request to include case studies of specific projects that demonstrate quality design from across Brisbane
  • requests for clarification of how the design guide should be applied, in particular the refinement of ‘design analysis’ and the use of the checklists in the development assessment process
  • requests for additional information and detail about how the ‘design elements’ can be delivered
  • comments regarding the future amendments to Brisbane City Plan 2014 to reflect the content of the design guide, and concerns regarding how the design guide might be used in the assessment of development applications.

A range of detailed refinements have been made to the document in response to feedback. To respond to the feedback to incorporate additional images and further information about how to implement the design guide, this online experience has been developed using key aspects of the document including photos and images to illustrate quality design and hyperlinks to key Council policy and guidance material such as fact sheets and web content that is most relevant to design. It is intended to update this online content regularly with the aspects of the guide including additional images and over time add case studies.

Since the release of the draft guide, Council has adopted Design-led City - A Design Strategy for Brisbane. The design strategy indicates future actions such as the ‘Design Portal’ and ‘Design Rating Scheme’ that will further enhance Council’s capacity to guide and deliver quality design across the city.  

Council would like to thank those who provided feedback on the draft design guide during the public consultation phase.

Download the guide

You may choose to navigate the key design process considerations and outcomes online, or you can download the full guide in your preferred format:

* Source: ShapingSEQ, 2017

Last updated:17 February 2020