Rooftop gardens and green open space

By Sarah Macoun and Olivia Williamson / 21 December 2018

One of the eight principles in Brisbane’s Future Blueprint is to “protect and create greenspace”. 

An action directed to achieving this principle is making it easier for new developments to include rooftop gardens and green open space. 

Specifically, amendments are proposed to Brisbane City Plan 2014 to allow developments to include sheltered rooftop amenity space without that space comprising a “storey” for the purposes of maximum storeys allowable for a new development. 

This action aligns with the Brisbane City Council’s “Buildings that Breathe” guideline which recognises the potential for greenery and landscaped spaces on rooftops and walls to take advantage of Brisbane’s sub-tropical climate. 

Currently, a covered rooftop space is captured by the definition of “storey” in City Plan 2014 and likely results in some developers being reluctant to incorporate shaded rooftops in designing proposals because of how it may impact on compliance with the acceptable outcomes for building height. 

HopgoodGanim Lawyers is a member of the Industry Leaders Research Group, a group which guides the work of the Research Foundation established by the Urban Development Institute of Australia (Queensland) (UDIA QLD). The Research Foundation conducted evidence-based research which revealed that people purchasing apartments in SEQ wanted access to rooftop areas for recreation and open space purposes. In a subtropical climate, shaded rooftop areas are critical. This research informed a submission made to the State Government on behalf of UDIA QLD  suggesting that the definition of “storey” be changed to facilitate more useable rooftop spaces for residents.  

It will be interesting to see whether Council further modifies City Plan 2014 to encourage rooftop greenspace. 

YIMBY Queensland  has offered the following suggestions  on removing the current barriers to providing shade of rooftops

  1. Changing section 1.7.7 (Determination of maximum building height) of City Plan 2014 to exclude fixed shade structures on rooftops from being a storey where meeting certain agreed criteria (e.g. heights, size and setbacks) 
  2. When planning scheme codes use metres (instead of storeys) to indicate maximum building height, add a right to exclude the height of any ‘shady rooftop’ structure from overall building height
  3. Recognise the value of shade provision in our sub-tropical climate by incorporating measures into the performance outcomes regarding height. 

The Blueprint anticipates work on this action starting within 6 months of the Blueprint being released (that is, in December 2018 ). 

For more information or discussion, please contact HopgoodGanim Lawyers’ Planning team. 

Sarah Macoun
Sarah is a Partner in our Planning and Environment practice and offers extensive experience in the areas of planning approvals, litigation and dispute resolution, together with many years of experience and a keen interest in environmental legislation and...
Olivia Williamson
Senior Associate
Olivia is a Senior Associate in our Planning and Environment practice.
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