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Front Boundary Fences

Fences include all built vertical landscaping elements designed to define boundaries between one space and the next or to accommodate a change of level. The design of fences and walls has an impact on the real and perceived safety and security of residents as well as on the amenity of the public domain and the streetscape character. The visual impact, scale and design of fences all need to be carefully considered. The design requirements for front fencing can be found in Tweed Shire Councils Development Control Plan Section A1 Part A (5.51mB PDF)

The State Governemnt Planning controls provide for some front boundary fencing standards and these can be found in the following link, State Environmental Planning Policy. Consideration should be given to the quality and design of any proposed fence so as to acheive an attractive and practical outcome.

Side and Rear Boundary Fences

The State Governemnt Planning controls provide for some boundary fencing standards and these can be found in the following link, State Environmental Planning Policy , Consideration should be given to the quality and design of any proposed fence so as to acheive an attractive and practical outcome. Fencing behind the front building line can be erected to a height of 1.8 metres without Council approval as long as they comply with the guidelines set out in the policy. An exception to this rule however does apply to fence structures of pre-cast concrete or masonary in excess of 1.2 metres in height which require approval prior to erection. Also if your land has frontage to a canal the height of the fence within the canal building line is restricted to 1.2 metres and as these canal building lines can vary in different areas it is suggested that you first check with Council on these setback requirements.

Generally, if a fence proposal does not comply with the State Environmental Planning Policy, it will need development consent from Council. Council's design control requirements for boundary fencing are set out in Tweed Shire Council's Development Control Plan Section A1, Part A (5.51mB PDF). The specific requirements are set out under Ancillary Development No 6.1. Also if you have frontage to a canal it will be necessary to comply with the requirements of Design Control C22 of the Development Control Plan Section A1, Part A which has specific requirements in relation to canal setbacks and the maximum heights permitted to ensure that the visual amenity of these areas are maintained.

Dividing Fences

Definition

A dividing fence is a fence that separates the lands of adjoining owners. The fence may be a structure of any material, a ditch, an embankment or a vegetative barrier (e.g. hedge). It does not include a retaining wall or the wall of a building.
If you are proposing to erect a new dividing fence or a front boundary fence you should contact Council to determine if prior approval is required and if there are any specific requirements in respect of fencing heights, designs or construction methods. Information in relation to Council's design control requirements for both dividing fences and front boundary fencing can also be found in Council's Development Control Plan Section A1, Part A (6.46mB PDF).

Costs of a Dividing Fence

The cost of a dividing fence includes the cost of all related fencing work, such as preparation of the land, as well as the design, construction, replacement, repair and maintenance of the fence.
Adjoining landowners are liable to share equally the cost of fencing work that will result in a sufficient dividing fence, except that:
  • An owner must pay the additional cost if they want a fence of a higher standard than is required for a sufficient dividing fence
  • An owner will have to pay the full cost if the existing fence is damaged, either deliberately or negligently, by the owner or by someone else with the owners permission. If the fence is damaged by a tenant, the owner must pay for the work even if they plan to claim the cost from the tenant
It should be noted that public authorities, which includes.Councils, who have control over Crown lands, parks, reserves etc do not have to contribute to fencing costs.
Common trusts are subject to the Dividing Fences Act 1991, and are liable for contributions to fencing.
A sufficient dividing fence is defined as a fence which separates the properties, for example a paling fence in a residential area, or a wire and steel star post fence in a rural area. If a court or land board needs to decide what is a sufficient dividing fence between adjoining owners, it will consider matters such as any existing dividing fence, the uses of the lands, privacy or other concerns of the owners, the usual kind of fence in the locality, or any relevant local council policy. If one owner wants a fence of a higher standard than a sufficient dividing fence then that owner is liable to pay the difference in the cost between that fence and a sufficient dividing fence.
If an existing dividing fence is damaged or destroyed by one owner or someone on the owner’s land, that owner is liable to pay up to the whole cost of restoring the dividing fence.

Serving a Fencing Notice

An owner wanting an adjoining owner to contribute to the cost of a dividing fence must first serve a Fencing Notice (19kB PDF) on that adjoining owner (personally or by post). Owners are liable to contribute to the cost once agreement is reached. A Community Justice Centre may be able to help if adjoining owners have difficulty reaching agreement. If an agreement is not reached within one month of the Notice being served, either owner may apply to a Local Court or Local Land Board to have the matter decided.

How can I access details of owners of properties?

In accordance with the Government Information (Public Access) Act, details of owners of properties are not publicly available. Council will apply the Public Interest Test in releasing detail of property owners only to adjacent owners for fencing or maintenance of property purposes. Property owners seeking this information are required to lodge an Informal Information Access Request Form which is on Council's website. For further information on releasing inforamation see Access to Council Information.

Resolving Fencing Disputes

The Local Court or Department of Lands is the authority charged with the administration of the Dividing Fences Act 1991, however advice relating to fencing disputes should be sought from other sources including Legal Aid Services, LawAccess NSW, Community Justice Centres or private lawyers. For more information on dividing fences and dispute resolution, please see the Dividing Fences Law or download the Application to Local Land Board for an Order for Fencing Work (23kB PDF).

Land Board Registrar North Coast NSW. Phone (02) 6591 3521.

If you are in any doubt as to whether or not your proposal requires Council approval or whether your proposal will meet the requirements prescribed under Council's Development Control Plan, please do not hesitate to contact Council on (02) 6670 2400.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Council assist me with a fencing dispute with my neighbour?

Neighbourhood fencing issues are a civil matter.  Council does not get involved in such matters.  lf you are concerned about a fencing matter on a neighbouring property the best way to resolve the issue is to discuss it with your neighbour. Your neighbour may not be aware that there is an issue and, in most cases, will be willing to help you resolve your concerns. You should clearly outline your concerns regarding the fencing issue with your neighbour and propose an option for addressing the issue.

lf talking to your neighbour does not result in an agreeable solution for both parties, please contact one of the below organisations for assistance:

  • The Community Justice Centre (CJC). The CJC provides a mediating service to assist you in coming to an agreement with your neighbour. lt is not mandatory for your neighbour to attend the CJC, but most people are willing to discuss the issue with a neutral facilitator to resolve problems and prevent them from escalating any further. Contact 1800 990 777 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) to discuss your situation with the CJC or alternatively visit www.cjc.nsw.gov.au
  • The Legal Answers website http://www.legalanswers.sl.nsw.gov.au/guides/neighbours/index.html , have a tool kit that has helpful information in regards to neighbourhood issues including fencing disputes.  Phone 1300 888 529.
Where can I find legal information in regards to fencing?
Please see Law Assist  for advice and information.
Last Updated: 23 November 2015