Do You Need Planning Permission To Build A Retaining Wall In Australia?

Are you considering building a retaining wall and want to know if planning permission is needed? Perhaps you have heard conflicting information and aren’t sure who to believe? Well, we are here to set the record straight. 


Keep reading to find out if planning permission is needed to build a retaining wall in Australia, the application process, and everything else you need to know. 

Do You Need Planning Permission To Build A Retaining Wall In Australia?

The short answer is yes; in most cases, planning permission is needed to build a retaining wall in Australia. Whether you need planning permission or a permit will depend on where you are in Australia and the height of the retaining wall. 

In most states, retaining walls taller than one metre are considered a major structure. These will need approval from your local council or authorities. This ensures the retaining wall is safe, complies with building codes and regulations, and is not dangerous to the public. 

Walls below this height are generally safe to build without planning permission. Still, you must ensure these retaining walls are structurally safe, whether you build the wall yourself or hire a contractor.  Let’s look at the specific regulations in place across Australia. 

Building A Retaining Wall In New South Wales 

Building regulations in New South Wales are pretty strict, with any retaining wall higher than 60mm needing to be approved by the local council before construction can begin. 

Building A Retaining Wall In Queensland 

To build any retaining wall in Queensland, you must comply with specific technical standards. The retaining wall must be deemed safe and certified, regardless of height. 

Building A Retaining Wall In Western Australia 

A building permit must be acquired when building a retaining wall over 500mm high in Western Australia. The wall must follow strict engineering requirements the government sets to ensure it is safe for the public. 

Building A Retaining Wall In South Australia

Retaining walls taller than one metre in South Australia must be approved by your local council before construction begins. 

How Do I Get Approval For My Retaining Wall?

How you get planning permission or a permit for your retaining wall in Australia depends on your local authority and the rules in place. You should speak with your local council or authority before hiring a contractor or commencing the work to see the process and have a rough time frame estimate. 

In most cases, you must apply to your local council or authority. You must include blueprints of the wall detailing its height, construction materials, and any other relevant information. You might be asked to provide the location of the wall to your property line, soil conditions in your area, and other factors that could cause issues with your wall. 

Your application will be processed, and you might receive a home visit from an official. They will likely assess your land and where the wall will be placed to determine if it could impact the public. A decision will be made, and you will either be granted or denied permission. Should you be refused permission, we recommend speaking to your council to find out why. There might be an error in your application or small adjustments to be made before the wall can be accepted. 

Once you have permission, purchase supplies, hire a professional, or start building the retaining wall yourself. 

Can I Build A Retaining Wall Without Planning Permission?

Yes, if your retaining wall is shorter than the heights we have mentioned and there are no other requirements, you can build your retaining wall without planning permission. However, you must ensure that the wall meets the necessary safety standards. 

We do not recommend building a retaining wall that is taller than regulations without planning permission. You can face fines if a retaining wall is built without approval or notice from neighbouring landowners. You might also have to remove the retaining wall, wasting time and money. 

You could also face legal ramifications if your retaining wall damages neighbouring properties. You’re responsible for preventing damage or encroachment to your neighbour’s land if your wall causes issues. You might be liable for your neighbour’s damages and need to pay for repairs. 

Final Thoughts 

Planning permission is required to build a retaining wall in Australia. The regulations and application process vary from city to territory, with your local council being able to provide you with specific guidance.