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Multi-unit developments

You can only build a second dwelling, townhouses or units on your land if your property is suitable.

These multi-unit developments are also called dual occupancies, units or townhouses.

Planning controls

The number of units you can build on your land depends on the planning controls that apply.

Talk with a design professional or planning consultant for advice before apply for a multi-unit development planning permit.

The design must meet the planning controls applying to your land, including:

  • those specified in the Planning Policy Framework
  • Local Planning Policy Framework including Clause 22.07 of the Knox Planning Scheme
  • the zone
  • any property overlays and Clause 55 (Rescode) of the Knox Planning Scheme.

ResCode applies many conditions to multi-units, including:

  • neighbourhood character
  • private open space
  • driveways and car parking
  • setbacks and siting
  • amenity impacts
  • landscaping and garden area
  • site coverage.

There may be other site limitations, like:

  • slope
  • trees
  • location of neighbouring properties
  • orientation
  • drainage.


When building multi-unit developments, you need to be aware of:

Double storey buildings

There may be limitations:

  • if other double storey buildings are close to the site
  • double storey buildings shouldn't look bulky from the street or your neighbour's properties
  • if the building will overshadow the backyard or windows of neighbours' dwellings
  • the upper-level floor area must be carefully designed and significantly smaller than the ground level. Double storey sheer walls are to be avoided.
  • upper-level windows mustn't intrude on your neighbours' privacy. You may need screening or highlight windows
  • upper-level window sill heights must be 1.7m above the floor. This affects how you use upper-level rooms and can affect the unit's design
  • Clause 22.07 of the Knox Planning Scheme may require a single storey dwelling to the rear of the land where three or more dwellings are proposed
  • zoning or overlays may also have building height limits.
Vegetation protection

Keep existing trees or significant vegetation where you can.

Leave enough open space to support their root systems.


You must consider site drainage.

Stormwater must drain to the lowest point on the site.

Buildings must not block stormwater from or travelling through the site.

Stormwater must be able to flow to the discharge point. The flow needs a minimum 1.5m wide corridor to allow the water to pass through the site.



Following the Environmentally Sustainable Design creates cleaner, safer, more cost-effective buildings.

Read more about Environmental Sustainable Design.

Waste services

You can help us moderate the increasing demand for waste services.

It is important that bin storage, waste management and collection is considered in your application.

This helps us reduce landfill and contaminated recycling streams and keep Knox beautiful.

Waste Management for Multi-Unit Developments

Accessibility guidelines for residential developments

For some applications, you must include an accessibility report for developments of five or more dwellings.

Find more information in Council's Accessibility Guidelines for Residential Developments.

Next steps

When you're ready to apply, you can ask online for pre-application advice.

Check you've got everything you need with our multi-unit development handout.

Lodge and pay for your planning application online

Register for online services

Need help?

Contact Planning Services and we will get back to you.

Or call our Planning Services team on 9298 8000.

Our services


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