Fences, hedges and walls

When building a fence, hedge or retaining wall, consider the types of materials you could choose and how the fence's location affects the use of materials and ownership, including costs shared with neighbours and maintenance.

Approvals needed

You will need development approval for a fence between a privately owned property and unleased Territory land (including areas such as parks, reserves, public access areas, street frontage, a laneway and other landscaped buffer areas). These fences are built and maintained at the cost of the private property owner.

You will not need development approval for:

  • hedges
  • property demarcation treatments that are up to 400mm above natural ground level
  • repair or replacements of fences if they are the same as the approved original
  • side or rear boundary fences between neighbours up to 2.3m above natural ground level and located behind the front building line.

You do not need development approval for fences that are rebuilt as an exact replacement of the original where the fence has been so damaged or destroyed that immediate repair or replacement must be made to protect people or to prevent escape of animals.

Neighbours can be given an opportunity to contribute to the cost.

Most fences and walls are exempt from building approval but you may consider a survey to ensure the fence is built in the correct location and that no encroachments are made.

Restrictions

Even if no approval is required, restrictions may apply to your situation:

  • fences facing the street in standard residential areas are not allowed, but property boundary demarcation is permitted, hedges are an example of this;
  • there may be lease and development conditions that specify the heights and types of fence materials, colours and styles to be used on your block;
  • where a fence faces public land, certain materials or colours may be required and certain materials are restricted, including tea tree and brush fencing, pine and other softwoods, bamboo and copper chrome arsenate treated timber. For further information see the Residential Boundary Fences General Code

Ownership

All “front” fences – for example hedges – are built and maintained at the cost of the owner. Private property owners who share side or rear fences are each responsible for half the cost and maintenance of a basic urban fence. The basic urban fence is 1.5m high and made of hardwood palings. Other fence types can be erected if allowed and neighbours agree on the design and cost beforehand.

Get development approval

To seek permission to build a “front” fence or if other permission is needed, lodge a development application. This may require public notification, which occurs after lodging an application.

Get help

See the fences fact sheet (364.7 KB)

Read the Residential Boundary Fences General CodeExternal link, which can be found in the Territory PlanExternal link.

If you and your neighbour cannot agree, contact the Conflict Resolution ServiceExternal link or make an application to the Small Claims Court for a determination.

If you find a link on the Territory Plan 2008 does not work, please contact Parliamentary Counsel OfficeExternal link.

How to begin

We suggest reading the General Code, talking to your neighbour and contacting us to find out if any restrictions apply to your situation or if you are unsure if you need permission.

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