Secondary dwellings (granny flats)

  • A Secondary Dwelling is commonly known as a 'granny flat'. However, the correct term in relation to planning and approval matters is a Secondary Dwelling.
  • A Secondary Dwelling must be established in conjunction with another dwelling (i.e. the Principal Dwelling). It cannot be the only dwelling on an allotment.
  • A Secondary Dwelling can be a free standing building, attached to a Principal Dwelling or result from alterations or additions to a Principal Dwelling.
  • A Secondary Dwelling cannot be located on a lot in a strata plan or community title scheme and therefore cannot be sold independently to the Principal Dwelling.

Where can I build a secondary dwelling?

Under the Ballina Local Environmental Plan 2012, Secondary Dwellings are permitted in the following urban residential zones:

  • R2 residential zones
  • R3 residential zones.

Secondary Dwellings are not a permitted on rural zoned land. Where more than one dwelling is to be located on rural land, it will be assessed as a Dual Occupancy development.

You can search Council’s online mapping platform or the Ballina Local Environmental Plan 2012 to determine what the land use zone of your property is.


How do I get approval for a secondary dwelling?

There are two pathways of applying for approval to have a Secondary Dwelling:

Complying Development

If your plans meet the requirements criteria for a Secondary Dwelling within State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 and State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 it can be approved as Complying Development by either Council’s Accredited Certifier or a privately Accredited Certifier.

There are a number of specific criteria in the State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPP’s) that have to be met to be approved as Complying Development. If any one of these criteria is not able to be met, the application cannot be approved.

Development Application

Although there are planning controls to be satisfied, assessment under the Development Application pathway is a merit based assessment based largely on  meeting objectives. However, there are  some criteria that still must be met such as:

  • R2 or R3 Urban zone
  • Minimum lot size of 450m2
  • Maximum floor area of 50% of the Principal Dwelling (Note section on Contributions below)
  • Maximum Floor Space Ratio of all building is 0.5:1
  • Merit assessment against Secondary Dwelling criteria of the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP

Development contributions

Where more than one dwelling is to be located on an allotment, a one off payment to council of developer contributions towards the provision and maintenance of Council infrastructure is required. This applies to all Secondary Dwellings.

However, to encourage the development of Secondary Dwellings in general and particularly where they are visually integrated with the Principal Dwelling, the Council has resolved to waive the payment of contributions on Secondary Dwelling as below:

  • Detached Secondary Dwellings receive 50% reduction
  • Attached Secondary Dwellings receive a 100% reduction (i.e. no contributions are payable).

To receive the above waiver the following criteria must also be satisfied:

  • The floor area of the Secondary Dwelling is to be no more than 60m2, and
  • A maximum of 2 bedrooms are contained within the secondary dwelling, and
  • A maximum of 5 bedrooms, 3 toilets and 2 laundries are permitted on the total site.

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