Private and Communal Open Space

Private Open Space is land or space that is owned or controlled by dwelling occupiers and available for private use only. Open space is an important component of residential development, providing private places for residents (i.e. private open space) and common areas for neighbours in multi-unit developments, for entertaining, play and relaxation (often referred to as communal open space).

A usable outdoor area is considered to be private open space. It can include balconies, terraces, decks, but does not typically include front yards and areas between a dwelling and the street frontage boundary. All Development Plans incorporate dimensions and area requirements for private open space (either as a percentage of a site area, an amount of square metres per bedroom or a minimum amount for certain site areas), while Development Plans often include allowances for roof coverage over some portion of private open space. Areas that cannot be “counted” as private open space often include enclosed spaces, vehicle parking areas (covered or uncovered) and driveways. Private open space should also be fenced or screened so as to enable private use and enjoyment of these areas.

Development Plans generally require that private open space areas should be of sufficient size, dimensions and gradient to be functional and meet likely occupant needs (i.e. entertaining, clothes drying, refuse storage, recreational purposes and to accommodate landscaping).

In addition the Development Plan, in relevant circumstances the Development Regulations include for Residential Code complying development (Schedule 4, Clause 2A and 2B – Dwelling Additions and Alterations and New Dwellings) the following method of calculating private open space:

(6)(g) the following minimum private open space requirements will apply in relation to the site after the development has been completed (after including the areas of the dwelling and any outbuildings, carports or verandahs on the site):

Site size

Minimum area of private open space

Minimum dimension
>500m2 80m2 4m
300-500m2 60m2 4m
<300m2 24m2 3m

 

and in any event at least 24 square metres of private open space at the rear or side of the dwelling with access directly from a habitable room within the dwelling must be provided;

(7b) in calculating private open space-

(i) any area at ground level at the front of the proposed dwelling will not be included; and
(ii) each area at ground level must have a width of at least 2.5 metres; and
(iii) any balcony must have a width of at least 2 metres

Communal open space typically involves areas that are still “private” insofar that they are not able to be used by people that do not occupy a dwelling forming part of a multi-unit development, however these areas are supplied for common use (not individual exclusive areas).  Often the appropriate “test” for communal open space is again to ensure that these areas are of sufficient size, dimensions and gradient to be functional and meet likely occupant needs (i.e. entertaining, clothes drying, refuse storage, recreational purposes and to accommodate landscaping).