Zoning in Australia ─ Part III: Coding By State

The Australian property system features a complex maze of zoning codes which are hard for even the most seasoned experts to understand. Here’s Acumen’s helping hand.

Nathan Daly
October 16, 2020

Zoning in Australia ─ Part III: Coding By State

And, once again, we have reached the final stage of a series; Part I and Part II provided an in-depth overview of the Australian zoning system, going into what zoning is and how it is controlled and decided, as well as the pros and cons of the nationwide system. Part III of Acumen Finance’s guide to Zoning in Australia will finalise the topic and will detail the way in which properties are coded across the nation, divided up by state and controlled by individual state government bodies.

A Quick Reminder

Just in case you’ve somehow forgotten, or you’re just new to the series and are yet to read parts one and two (which you should, by the way), if you’re planning to build or subdivide properties on the residential or commercial property markets or do anything in property development, you need to know what zone it is in first. If you’ve got a clue about the zoning, you’ll be able to gauge whether your project plans are doable.

Basically, through zoning, the councils are able to control what developers can build on land within their jurisdiction. The level of control allows the government to maintain the current levels of sustainable population growth. Across the entirety of Australia, you’ll find 517 individual councils, which can make the zoning map of the nation relatively convoluted and confusing. Right now, there are thousands of different codes across the nation, and New South Wales is the only state to feature a standardised set of zoning codes.

Now, in our series, we haven’t covered ‘all’ of the different zoning categories ─ just the ones that’ll most likely be relevant to those of you reading. For the sake of zone code clarification, we’re going to drop a few more in. So, at the highest-level, zoning falls into these categories:

-       Agricultural

-       Commercial

-       Industrial

-       Mixed-Use

-       Public-Use

-       Residential

So, let’s run through the relevant codes broken down by state.

New South Wales (NSW)

So, we’ve started with NSW because, as previously stated, they’ve implemented standardised zone codes. You can go onto the associated government Planning Portal for an in-depth look at the regions’ property zoning map. Here are some examples of the most relevant codes across NSW:

-       R1 ─ General Residential

-       R2 ─ Low-Density Residential

-       R3 ─ Medium Density Residential

-       R4 ─ High-Density Residential

-       R5 ─ Large Lot (Rural) Residential

-       B4 ─ Mixed-Use

Victoria (VIC)

The councils across the state of Victoria have gone through an overhaul in the past couple of years, resulting in a number of zones being chopped and changed to suit new governmental agendas for the respective region. Here are the most relevant codes in the state, currently:

-       NRZ ─ Neighbourhood Residential Zone

-       RGZ ─ Residential Growth Zone

-       GRZ ─ General Residential Zone

-       C1Z ─ Commercial 1 Zone

-       C2Z ─ Commercial 2 Zone

-       MUZ ─ Mixed Use Zone

-       LDRZ ─ Low-Density Residential Zone

-       TZ ─ Township Zone

Northern Territory (NT)

The Northern Territory has a lot of zoning codes, too. The zones that you’ll find coming up with properties at auction and on the property marketplace are most likely to be as follows:

-       CB ─ Central Business

-       FD ─ Future Development

-       RL ─ Rural Living

-       RR ─ Rural Residential

-       SD ─ Single Dwelling Residential

-       MD ─ Multiple Dwelling Residential

-       MR ─ Medium Density Residential

-       HR ─ High-Density Residential

Western Australia (WA)

When you hit the West, the zoning methods change once again, and slightly more drastically. The system in Western Australia focuses on a slightly deeper sense of metric logic; R-Codes, as they have been renamed, is used to indicate the potential density of properties that can be developed or built per hectare of land.

So, for example, if a property’s zoning code is listed as ‘R50’, then the relevant plot of land would allow for 50 dwellings per hectare. ‘R40’ would allow for 40 and ‘R60’ for 60, and so on.

This isn’t the only factor that makes up the R-Code system, however. Other contributing factors include:

-       Surrounding area

-       What kind of site work will be necessary

-       Is there easy access and parking needed at the site?

-       The type of dwelling it is

-       Maximum plot ratio, if apartments are being built

-       Maximum height of the dwelling

-       The minimum amount of open space needed

Queensland (QLD)

Queensland’s coding system is a little different to the other Australian states, being that the state features 77 local government areas. With that in mind, you should know that the state has a lot of different codes and even a myriad of sub-codes in multiple areas. As they are ‘dedicated to a better Brisbane’, Brisbane’s City Council has produced a ‘City Plan’ map, which will allow you to break down the city by zoning code ─ this will give you an insight into what exactly the zoning codes are in the state of Queensland.

Southern Australia (SA)

Southern Australia’s system is just like Queensland in the sense that it also doesn’t have a solid, state-wide way of addressing zoning codes ─ unlike New South Wales, which features a standardised system of zoning. That said, they’ve got a fairly generic mindset behind their coding:

-       SAL/C - Commercial

-       SAL/R - Residential

The state of South Australia, just like Queensland again, has a lot of local government areas with different ideas. To make it a little simpler, the SA government has produced a mapping tool which anybody can use to check the zoning code of properties in the region.

Australia Capital Territory (ACT)

Well, finally, we reach the Australia Capital Territory; a state that, if we’re honest, makes it pretty clear-cut and simple to understand. They add in a ‘Z’ to their coding, so, if you’re looking at residential zones it’ll look like:

-       RZ1 - Suburban Zone

-       RZ2 - Sub Core Zone

-       RZ3 - Urban Residential Zone

-       RZ4 - Medium Density Residential Zone

-       RZ5 - High-Density Residential Zone

And, my friends, that’s the curtain call for our Zoning in Australia trilogy. Remember, all of the relevant zoning codes and information can be found on the appropriate official government websites, alongside maps and further details. Well, that’s it from the experts at Acumen Finance. We’ve given you all that you need to know on the subject, and while that may be the case, remember that you should never sign on the dotted line for a potential property until you’ve done a fair amount of due diligence ─ research is the key to avoiding any potential stingers further down the line.

If you need any further guidance or need a helping hand with commercial land information, development finance, commercial mortgages, or if you’re still unsure, like many others, on the commercial property markets and development zoning, we advise that you contact us today. Our team of experts knows the ins-and-outs in this playground, and we’re more than happy to help you out on your journey.