Build a retaining wall | Brisbane City Council

Build a retaining wall

""If you are building a retaining wall, you should find out the key facts about the property (zoning, overlays, lot size and if the property is included in a neighbourhood plan) and then use the following information to find out if your new house project needs planning approval. 


A retaining wall is a structure erected to support an excavated or filled embankment.

Planning approval

A PD Online property enquiry can help you determine if the proposal requires Council approval. You can also phone 07 3403 8888 to speak to a town planner. 

No development application required

In all zones, a retaining wall will not need a development application if the wall height is proposed to be less than one metre in height, it is set back from any boundary and is stepped or terraced so that landscaping can be planted to soften visual impact.

If your proposed retaining wall does not meet these requirements then a development application will be required.

Other circumstances when a development application may be required

If you are proposing a retaining wall in any of the following circumstances, you should contact Council for advice specific to your situation:

Building approval

A retaining wall is regarded as a 'class 10b' (non-habitable) structure under the Building Code of Australia (forming Volumes 1 and 2 of the National Construction Code).

According to Queensland building regulations, you do not need building approval for a retaining wall if it fulfils the following criteria:

  • there is no 'surcharge loading' over the 'zone of influence' for the wall (refer to definitions in the Building Regulation 2006 (Schedule 1 Section 3))
  • the total height of the wall and of the fill or cut retained by the wall is no more than one metre above the wall's natural ground surface
  • the wall is no closer than 1.5 metres to a building or another retaining wall
  • it does not form part of the fencing for a pool.

If your project does not meet all of these requirements, you must prepare a building application and have it approved by a building certifier. You must give the certifier scaled and detailed plans prepared by a draftsperson or architect.

The Queensland Development Code recommends that retaining walls up to one metre that require filling or excavation are constructed in accordance with an accepted industry standard publication, depending on the materials used to construct it (e.g. timber, concrete masonry).

​​The code also requires minimum clearances from roads and side and rear boundaries. Your certifier can seek an alternative setback from the front, side or rear boundary by applying for a siting variation.

22 November 2016