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The time has come, you have decided to sell part of your property, transfer it to a different ownership, move a boundary line, SUBDIVIDE!

What now? Your first step should be to talk to a consulting surveyor. A consulting surveyor can make an assessment of whether your proposal is possible. This will be based on several factors including the zoning of the land. Assuming that the land can indeed be subdivided, the steps to proceed at outlined here.

Once it has been determined that land can be subdivided, it is considered good practice to have a pre-lodgement meeting with the local Council. This meeting will often be on site to allow the town planners and engineers to see the proposal on the ground and get in-depth information on the site. The outcome of this meeting should be a list of items which need to be addressed when preparing a development application for submission to Council.

The consulting surveyor can then prepare plans showing the site before and after the proposed development. In many cases this will require a site survey showing levels and site features. In other cases, a simple plan showing the layout of boundaries before and after the development may suffice.

Based on the plans and facts at hand, the consulting surveyor is then able to prepare a Statement of Environmental Effects. This document addresses the relevant legislation, from State Environmental Planning Policies to Local Environmental Plans and Development Control Plans. Each piece of legislation is examined and explained in context to the proposed development. The Statement of Environmental Effects also addresses practical issues such as access to the site, water supply and electricity supply.

The consulting surveyor will provide you with a Development Application form, and can assist you in completing it. The development application form must be signed by all owners of the land, and the applicant for the proposal, who does not necessarily have to be one of the land owners.

The Statement of Environmental Effects is them compiled with plans, diagrams, photos and the written report, together with the development application form and the fee payable to Council. This is then submitted to Council for them to assess. Development Application assessment time varies greatly depending on the proposed development and the Council to which the application is submitted, but generally 8 weeks is considered fairly typical.

While assessing a development application, Council may contact the consulting surveyor requesting further information or clarification.

When the development is approved, Council will issue a development consent. It is quite normal for the development to be approved subject to several conditions. These conditions may relate to provision of water supply, access, power or any item Council considers important. Your consulting surveyor will explain the development consent to you and point out any particular items which are especially important for you to understand.

The major part of the subdivision can now commence. Survey, design and construction of civil works can begin, if necessary. This may involve additional applications to Council for a construction certificate, which could also be combined with a development application. For more simple projects, you may be able to engage your consulting surveyor to begin the survey and prepare the plan of subdivision, while arranging for any conditions to be met.

When the conditions of the development consent have been met and the final “linen” plan of subdivision prepared, the next step of the approval process, the Subdivision Certificate application begins. At this stage, the “linen” plan is submitted to Council for their approval with a form and a fee (of course). Council make an assessment of whether all conditions of the development consent have been met to their satisfaction. Once Council are satisfied with the conditions being met, the plan is signed by Council and released to the applicant.

Before the plan can be lodged for registration, all land owners must sign the plan. If the plan creates easements, a Section 88B instrument must be prepared by a solicitor, setting out the conditions of the easements such as which lot/s are burdened, which are benefited and what rights and responsibilities are attached to the affected land. This document must also be signed by all the land owners. If there is a mortgage on the land, the bank must also sign the plan and Section 88B instrument. If there is a lease on the land, the lessees must provide written consent to the subdivision.

The original certificate/s of title for the land must be sent to the Land Titles Office at Land & Property Information NSW in order that new titles can be created. This is a process called “production of titles”. There are fees associated with title production which vary depending upon where the titles are held (solicitor, bank, other).

Once all signatures are obtained and the titles are produced, the plan can be lodged at Land and Property Information NSW (LPI). At this time, there are fees payable to the LPI for plan processing and title creation. At Doherty Smith & Associates Pty Ltd we lodge our plans by electronic lodgment which allows for faster response to any queries from LPI and more control over the process.

The plan is usually registered within 4 to 6 weeks of the date of lodgement. New certificates of title are issued and the subdivision is finalised.

Please note that the above is a generalisation of the subdivision process, and that other steps may be involved depending on the specifics of the project. If you have a project in mind and wish to discuss it with Doherty Smith & Associates Pty Ltd, please do not hesitate to give us a call.


Eric Smith

Registered Surveyor