Zoning – What Does it Mean?


Zoning – What Does it Mean?

What is it?

Zoning is one of the ways the governments regulate the use of land and buildings and control growth patterns. Every piece of land in Australia is subject to zoning regulations which outline what is legally permitted on each block of land.


Each state has different zonings. If you are moving states, make sure to understand that states zoning as well. This blog focusses on the zoning in N.S.W.


When buying property or land it is important to know its zoning and understand what that means, in regards to what you can or can’t do to the property. For example, you may not be able to extend the home or knock down and re-build. If you don’t understand the zoning of where you are buying, your plans for the future of that dwelling may be foiled.


How does it affect me?


Some of the major categories of zoning include: residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial, mixed-use and public-use.


Within these are more categories. For example, under residential zoning there are the following:

R1 – General Residential

R2 – Low Density Residential

R3 – Medium density Residential

R4 – High density residential

R5 – Large lot (rural) residential.


In each zoning, there are also things we call ‘overlays’. An overlay is an additional layer of planning control that allows council to determine the type of development that occurs. Overlays are often included to protect heritage significance, promote a future vision or protect you from environmental catastrophe such as flooding or fires. Overlays mean that, to build or renovate you will need to apply for a permit and meet specific requirements set out by the council. For example: If you are building in a flood zone you may find that council requires you to build on a raised mound of earth or you cannot build at all.


It is important to not only know the zoning of the land you are looking to buy but also the surrounding area. In one suburb, you may have a combination of zoned land. This means, while your home is zoned as residential the surrounding land may be zoned as commercial or industrial and five years later, you may find yourself surround by factories and not in that idyllic location it was when you bought it.


Can zoning change?


Yes. Zoning of land changes all the time. To provide for housing demands of a growing population and respond to environmental constraints, land is regularly rezoned.


An existing land user may request for a change to the zoning of their land. This is often done by developers. This must be approved through a formal amendment process and can take time.


Do your research!


We live in the age of information! To find out the zoning of your area or the area you are looking to move to, search on the Department website (link at end of article). If you are looking for more detailed information it is best to speak with a local council planning officer. Make sure to look for any future potential rezoning in the area so that you can rest assured your plans will be able to be completed.


Understanding the local zoning laws means that you are equipped with the appropriate information to make an informed and productive purchase. You will know exactly what can and can’t be added to the property, what you can build, how large it can be and all those nitty gritty important details. You will also be prepared for any approaching zoning changes and the impact they will have on your lifestyle.


If you choose to buy or sell through Peter Hunt Real Estate, you will find that we have an in-depth knowledge of the zoning of all our properties and the area. We will guide you through understanding what that means and how it can benefit you best.