When building a fence or retaining wall, you should 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.
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) unless exempt from requiring an approval. All fences are built and maintained at the cost of the private property owner.
You will not need development approval for:
- property demarcation treatments that are up to 400mm above natural ground level
- repair or replacement 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
Even if no approval is required, restrictions may apply to your situation. For instance:
- 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. See the Residential Boundary Fences General Code, which can be found in the Territory Plan.
- in heritage areas
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.
If you and your neighbour cannot agree, contact the Conflict Resolution Service or make an application to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT)
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