Retaining Walls

A retaining wall is not a fence (although it can serve as a footing for a fence). The regulation of retaining walls is principally found in the Development Act.

Generally, a retaining wall is development (pursuant to Section 32 of the Act) when:
 

  • fill of greater than 200mm high is to be retained and is within 600 mm of the boundary (see Regulation 75(2)(c)); or
  • a retaining wall of greater than 1 metre is proposed (see Schedule 3 subclause 4(1)(i)); or
  • the proposed excavation or fill (‘prescribed work’ see Section 60(1)) that may affect the stability of the land.


Although a retaining wall less than 1 m in height is exempt development pursuant to Schedule 3, this structure may affect the stability of adjoining land dependent upon the distance that the retaining wall is away from the boundary (see Schedule 15 of the Development Regulations). In these circumstances a retaining wall may fall within the definition of ‘prescribed work’ under section 60(1) and require Development Approval.

Further information can be found at the Law Handbook.