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High density housing

Multi Unit Developments

Are you interested in building a second dwelling on your land, or building town houses or units?

Council has prepared this page to provide basic information on whether a property is suitable for Multi Unit Developments (also known as dual occupancies, units or townhouses).

The following information will apply to a property located within a Residential Zone. There may be additional controls applicable to your property.

To find out what planning controls apply to your land click here to do a basic property report Land Victoria.

Designing Multi Unit Developments

The number of units you might be able to build depends on the planning controls that apply to your land. Consider engaging a design professional and/or planning consultant, particularly if your proposal is large or complex.

A design specific to the site is required to properly address the planning controls applicable to your land, including those specified in the Planning Policy Framework, Local Planning Policy Framework, the zone and any overlays affecting the property and Clause 55 (Rescode) of the Knox Planning Scheme. You may need to take into account other constraints of the site (e.g. slope, trees, location of neighbouring properties, orientation, drainage, etc.)

ResCode (Clause 55 of the Knox Planning Scheme), contains a number of requirements for multi units including: neighbourhood character; private open space; driveways and car parking; setbacks and siting; amenity impacts; landscaping and garden area; site coverage etc.

The Local Planning Policy Framework, including Clause 22.07 (Development in Residential Areas and Neighbourhood Character) of the Knox Planning Scheme will also influence the ability to complete a multi unit development on your property.

Below are some of the things you will need to consider when designing a multi unit development.

Double storey buildings

Council recommends that double storey houses not be built at the rear of a site, as it is often difficult to avoid intruding on the privacy to neighbouring properties. If you are considering building double storey units, please consider:

  • If there are any other double storey buildings in the immediate area of the site.
  • The double storey dwelling must be designed to avoid visual bulk when viewed from neighbouring properties or the street. The building should not significantly overshadow the backyard or windows of neighbouring dwellings.
  • The upper level floor area should be carefully designed and be significantly smaller than the ground level of the unit.
  • Windows at the upper level should not invade the privacy of neighbouring properties. To avoid overlooking, upper level windows may have to use screening, opaque glass or highlight windows (with sill heights 1.7 metres above the floor level). This can result in a poor standard of amenity for any upper level rooms and can also dramatically impact the design of the unit.

The zone that your property is located within, or any overlays which affect your property may also specify maximum building height requirements.

Vegetation Protection

Existing trees or significant vegetation should be retained as much as possible to ensure that, when developed, the site continues to reflect the leafy green image of the neighbourhood and Knox as a whole. There should be enough open space to support the root systems of retained trees.


When designing a multi unit development, drainage of the site must be considered. Provision must be made for storm water to drain to the lowest point on the site, which is generally where the storm water drain will be located.

Stormwater from the site must be able to flow to the discharge point without being blocked by any building. A minimum 1.5 metre wide corridor is needed for the storm water flow.

Further information on drainage requirements for a multi unit development will be provided through the Pre-Application Process.


Incorporating the basic principles of Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) will result in buildings which are cleaner, safer and cheaper to run. Read more about Environmental Sustainable Design.

Waste Services

Council is receiving increasing numbers of applications for multi unit and mixed use high-rise residential developments. A consistent approach to waste management is required to protect amenity, reduce landfill volumes and contamination of recycling streams. To ensure waste services are user-friendly, storage of bins and the management and collection of waste is considered as part of your application.

Waste Guidelines for Multi Unit Developments
Waste Policy for Multi Unit Developments

Accessibility Guidelines for Residential Developments

Developments of (5) five or more dwellings and residential buildings must be accompanied with an accessibility report. Refer to Council's Accessibility Guidelines for Residential Developments for more information.

What's next?

Once you've done some research and spoken to a design professional, you can choose to get some pre-application advice from our Planning Services team. Applications for Pre-application Advice can be made online.

Ready to lodge your application? Check out our Multi Unit Development Handout for a checklist of information needed. Remember - the more complete your application is... the quicker we can process it!

NEW! Planning at Knox is now Digital. You can now lodge and pay for your planning application using Council's Online Services. You must be a Registered User to use this service.

Register for Online Services

Apply for a Multi Unit Development

For more information please contact

If you have questions, you can contact us on 9298 8125 or alternatively, you can lodge a request below and a staff member will get back to you.

Contact Planning Services

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