Step One - Establishing Feasibility
A review of property titles is advisable at the earliest opportunity. Title documents include:
- plans and text
- schedules of easements
- any other requirements imposed by the title, including Section 71 Agreements.
Defining the scope and financial feasibility
Some useful questions to ask at this stage may be:
- What planning and building controls will apply?
- What is the available floor area?
- How many dwellings can be supported?
- What is the potential financial return?
- How will any businesses below be affected?
- How will emergency exits be provided?
- How will access for people with disabilities be provided?
- Can all other planning and building requirements be met?
Seeking professional advice
There are a range of experts available to support you through this stage, and help you to ensure the project's viability.
A development manager could coordinate the entire process, engaging other professionals with specific areas of expertise, such as:
- Town planners
- Building surveyors
- Financial advisors
- Real estate agents.
These professionals may provide you with assessments regarding potential sites, the scope of the project and the likely marketability and profitability of the completed development. These assessments should include consideration of planning and building regulations.
Examining market demand
At this stage it is crucial to consider the market demand in the locality, particularly in light of any restrictions highlighted by site and neighbourhood investigations. This information should assist you to gauge whether the development will sell or lease well. The City of Launceston cannot provide advice on the financial viability of any project.
Planning and building regulation advice
To determine what can be potentially built on a site, owners/developers should refer to the relevant planning and building regulations. The Launceston Planning Scheme can be accessed through www.iplan.tas.gov.au. A planning consultant or building designer may be able to assist in the interpretation of the provisions and standards. You can also contact the Council's City Development department for information on general planning and building requirements and those that would apply to a specific site.
The requirements of the Tasmanian state building regulations and the National Construction Code are best investigated with the assistance of a building surveyor, architect or building designer.
However the following links may assist with information on current legislation:
Properties may be listed at both the local level (in the heritage schedule of the Planning Scheme), and at state level (as items on the Tasmanian Heritage Register). Most changes to the exterior of listed buildings will require a Planning Permit. Applications relating to state listed properties will be referred to the Tasmanian Heritage Council for assessment as part of the Development Application process.
Interior alterations to state listed properties may also require the approval of the Tasmanian Heritage Council via a discretionary Development Application process (exemptions can apply). Sensitively designed functional changes to the interiors and backs of buildings are often accepted as part of a building's natural life, and will usually be supported.
Advice on heritage listed buildings can be provided by the City of Launceston's Heritage Planner. To ensure the best outcome, you would involve your architect or designer, and meet the Planner before you submit your planning application. If included on the Tasmanian Heritage Register free advice is also provided by Heritage Tasmania in regard to suitable development and the potential for exemptions in certain circumstances. If included on the Tasmanian Heritage Register free advice is also provided by Heritage Tasmania in regard to suitable development and the potential for exemptions in certain circumstances.
You should also conduct a detailed analysis of the neighbourhood. This should consider the history and character of the area, and also identify any potential objections from neighbouring properties.
Almost all development involving changes to building fabric (inside or out) and/ or change of use will require advice and sign-off by a Building Surveyor, and more significant works will also require a Building Application to be submitted to Council for approval. It will be prudent to engage a Building Surveyor at the earliest stage to ensure that the requirements of the National Construction Code can be met in the space proposed.
Single dwellings above commercial ground floors have the following basic requirements for containing and warning of fire and ensuring safe escape:
- direct escape to a place of safety – upper-floor dwellings must have independent escape stairs
- floors and separating walls capable of containing and resisting a fire for a specified period of time
- wired-in smoke detection and alarm systems of good quality.
Fire safety requirements are more stringent for multiple dwellings, and proponents normally need to consult with both a Building Surveyor and the Tasmanian Fire Service.
In the case of larger properties and multiple dwellings (over 200m2), safe access and egress must be specifically provided for people with disability. The ‘Building Regulations 2016 s.82 and the Tasmanian appendix of the NCC ‘Tas D3.4(d)’ details the possible concessions to these access requirements.
Note: Each property is different and will have its own solution. A Building Surveyor can provide information and clarification of any of the above.