Building a Fence or Retaining Wall

This page provides an overview of the planning and building requirements for constructing front fences, dividing fences and retaining walls. To build a fence or retaining wall you may need planning/development approval, building approval, or both.

Definitions

Front Fences

A front fence is a wall, screen or barrier that adjoins a street boundary or is located in the front and secondary street setback area.

Dividing Fences

A dividing fence separates the land of different owners along the common boundary of adjoining lands or on either side of the common boundary. It is subject to an agreement between property owners.

If you are a property owner and want to build a dividing fence, you should know your obligations and responsibilities under the Dividing Fences Act 1961 (WA) before construction.

Important note: We do not administer the Act. Please direct any dividing fences disputes to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

Retaining Walls

A retaining wall is a wall or structure that is designed and constructed to support soil at a slope that cannot naturally be supported. It may be required where any changes in the natural ground levels are proposed.

Pool and Spa Safety Fences

All private swimming pools and spas must have a compliant safety barriers to stop young children from accessing the area. For more information about the requirements for pool and spa fences, see our Swimming Pools and Spas page.  

Planning/Development Approval for Fences and Retaining Walls

Front fences

Planning/development approval is not required for a front or secondary street fence which complies with the following:

  • The maximum pier height is 2.0 metres
  • The maximum height of a solid portion to the front fence is 1.2 metres.
  • Maximum height of infill panels is 1.8 metres to the top of the panels;
  • Fencing that is higher than 1.2m, but no higher than 1.8m, must comply with the visually permeable requirements set out by the R-Codes which define this as:
    • Continuous vertical or horizontal gaps of 50mm or greater width occupying not less than one third of the total surface area;
    • Continuous vertical or horizontal gaps less than 50mm in width, occupying at least one half of the total surface area in aggregate; or
    • A surface offering equal or lesser obstruction to view.
  • A suitable sightline truncation is provided. The fence should be reduced to no higher than 0.75m within 1.5m of where it adjoins vehicle access points where a driveway meets a public street or where two streets intersect. Alternatively, the fence may be designed with the following features:
    • One pier to a maximum width located within the truncation area;
    • Maximum wall height in the truncation area 0.75m from the verge height directly adjacent to the wall; and
    • Fencing within truncation area is 80% visually permeable
  • A portion of fencing without permeable infill panels is permitted on the secondary street to a maximum height of 1.8 metres where it abuts the main primary outdoor living area. The remainder of the fencing should be visually permeable as outlined above.

Note:

  1. Where a retaining wall is visible above the road reserve level, the visible height of the retaining wall is to be taken into account in the assessment of the fencing height.
  2. Where a swimming pool is located in the front setback or secondary street setback In addition to meeting the above requirements, you will need to ensure the fencing is compliant with Australian Standard 1926.1-2012 requirements.

If the proposed fencing does not meet the above requirements, you can submit a planning/development application. We will assess the proposal against the

Dividing fences

Planning/development approval is not required for dividing fences. The requirements for dividing fences are set out in the Dividing Fences Act 1961 (WA) and the our Local Law (By-laws) Relating to Fences.

Retaining walls

Planning/development approval is not required for retaining walls up to 500mm above natural ground level. If you wish to build a retaining wall higher than 500mm, you will need to lodge a planning/development application.

Building Approval for Fences and Retaining Walls 

Front Fences

Generally, building permit approval is not required for a front or secondary street fence which complies with the following:

  • If it is constructed of masonry (limestone, brick or similar), it is no more than 0.75m in height
  • if constructed of a material other than masonry, it is no more than 1.8m in height
  • it is not located in wind region C or D as defined in AS 1170.2.

If the proposed fence forms part of a private swimming pool or spa barrier, you will need to comply with Australian Standard 1926.1-2012 and will need building permit approval. See our Swimming Pools and Spas page for more information.   

Dividing Fences

Generally, a building permit  is not required to construct a dividing or boundary fence using material such as fibro-cement sheets, colorbond or timber.

If the proposed fence forms part of a private swimming pool or spa barrier, you will need to comply with Australian Standard 1926.1-2012 and will need a building permit. See our Swimming Pools and Spas page for more information.

Retaining Walls

This information is currently under development. For building advice, please contact us to speak to a building officer.

Lodging a Planning/Development or Building Application for fences and retaining walls

You can lodge and track most building and planning/development applications online, however some applications must be submitted in-person at our Civic Centre.

 Lodge and Track a Building and Planning Application

The following guides provide more information about what to include in your application:

Planning/Development Approvals

Timeframes

We aim to process applications within the following guidelines:

  • Where we don’t need to consult with neighbours or external agencies: 60 days.
  • Where we need to consult with neighbours or external agencies: 90 days.

These timelines may sometimes be extended in consultation with the applicant.

Fees and Charges

Planning/development application fees are calculated based on the contract value of the project and are listed on the Planning Fees Schedule. The fee for projects with a contract value less than $50,000 is $147.

Building Permit Applications

Timeframes

We process all certified applications (BA1 forms) within 10 working days, and all uncertified applications (BA2 forms) within 25 working days.

You should apply for a certified application (BA1) when you have had the plans, specifications and technical documents assessed by a registered private building surveyor and have been issued a Certificate of Design Compliance (BA3). You should apply for an uncertified application (BA2) when your plans, specifications and technical documents have not been assessed by a private building surveyor and they will need to be assessed by our building surveyors.

If we need further information to assess your application, you will have up to 21 calendar days to provide any outstanding information. We then have balance of the remaining 10 working days to provide a determination.

If you do not provide the outstanding information within the 21 days, we may refuse your application.

Fees and Charges 

See all our building permit fees in our Building Permit Fee Schedule, or use our online fee calculator to estimate your building fees.

Verge Bond Fee

For building projects over $20,000, you will also need to pay a verge bond. A verge bond is held by us to ensure that any damage caused to City verge infrastructure during construction works is rectified to pre-works condition.

  • Verge Bond - $1900.00
  • Verge Bond Inspection Fee (non-refundable) - $100

To find out more and apply, visit our Verge Bonds and Refunds page.

Asbestos Fences

If you are planning on removing or altering an asbestos fence, or a fence you think may contain asbestos, it's important you follow appropriate safety precautions. Visit our Asbestos page for more information.

Planning/Development and Building Advice for Fences and Retaining Walls

The advice on this page is a general guide only. We encourage you to contact us to discuss your project so we can advise whether planning/development or building approval is needed. A planning officer and a building officer are available during business hours to provide advice on a range of matters either in person, over the phone, or by email. Depending on the complexity of the advice being sought, we may ask you to lodge a request for written planning advice and a fee of $73 will apply.

Guiding Documents

Forms and Documents

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