Building a new fence will often require a building permit before construction can begin. There are many reasons why, such as ensuring the fence’s structural integrity; ensuring pool fences are safe and secure; and preventing blocking sunlight from a neighbouring property.

In this section you will find information about:

  • when you do or don’t require a building permit for a fence
  • applying for a building permit for your proposed fence
  • resolving fencing disputes with neighbours
  • and sharing the cost of fencing.

The rules surrounding fencing can be very complex. If you need more information or explanation about fencing regulations, please contact Council’s Building Services Unit.

Do I need a building permit to build a fence?

There are many different circumstances where fencing is required. If you are planning to build a fence and are uncertain about whether a permit is needed, please contact Council’s Building Services Unit for advice. Contacting them at the start of the planning process could save you a lot of time.

You won’t always need a building permit before erecting a fence. But in the following instances, a building permit is required:

  • a brick front fence more than 1.2m metres high that is within 3 metres of a street alignment (ie where the property boundary meets the street) and located on, or facing, that street alignment
  • a side or boundary fence that’s more than 2 metres high.
  • a fence that is more than 1 metre high and less than 9 metres from the point of an intersection of street alignments (ie within 9 metres of the corner where the street and property boundaries meet.) You will also need a council approved “report and consent” in these cases.
  • a swimming pool and/or spa safety fence
  • a fence forming part of a children’s service outdoor play space/area
  • a fence over an easement
  • any fence where council consent is required for height or location.

Building surveyors assess these proposals against Australia wide rules to ensure fences are safe. They do so to protect your neighbours’ rights to daylight and structural stability.

If you want to build a fence that is over 2 metres high, the proposal needs to be checked by a building surveyor and yourself to ensure you are meeting the regulations

When don’t I need a permit to build a fence?

You don’t need a building permit to construct a fence, screen, or similar if the fence or screen:

  • is less than two metres high
  • is not more than 1.5 metre height when within 3 metres of a street (which is not a lane, footway, alley or right of way) alignment and is not made of bricks, concrete or similar
  • is no more than 1 metre above the footpath when within 9 metres of a point of intersection of street alignments (ie within 9 metres of the corner where the street and property boundaries meet)
  • does not have barbed wire or similar and located next to a street
  • is a side or boundary fence less than 2 metres high where the above do not apply
  • a chain wire fence surrounding a tennis court.

Please note that any safety fence around a children’s play area, spa or pool requires a permit, regardless of height, location or other features.

Definitions

Height: in relation to a fence at any point, height means the vertical distance between natural ground level at the base of the fence and the top of the fence.

Setback: from a boundary or building, setback means a horizontal distance from that boundary or building.

What about fences on street corner properties?

If you want to build a fence on a corner property, that is more than 1 metre above the footpath and within 9 metres of a point of intersection of street alignments (ie where your property boundary meets the street/path), you will need to get council’s consent and report, as well as a building permit. Council officers will assess your proposal to make sure the fence won’t affect pedestrian safety or a driver’s vision of oncoming cars.  

Front fence height

Front fence heights may vary, depending on where your property is located. If the fence is within 3 metres of the point where your front property boundary meets the street, then the maximum fence heights below will apply:

  • for a declared road under the Transport Act 1983  fences must be no more than 2 metres high.
  • for any other street fences must be no more than 1.5 metres high.

If you want to build a front fence that is taller than these maximum heights, building regulations require you to get council’s consent and report as well as a building permit.

Side and back fences

In some circumstances you can build a side or rear fence that is more than two metres high without getting a building permit. It depends on how far the fence is setback from the side or rear property boundary.

A side or rear fence around a home won’t need a building permit if:

  • it is between 2 metres and 3.6 metres high, and setback 1 metre from the side or rear property boundary
  • it is between 3.6 metres and 6.9 metres high and setback 1 metre, plus 300mm for every metre in height over 3.6 metres  
  • it is more than 6.9 metres high and set back 2 metres, plus 1 metre for every metre in height over 6.9 metres.

If your fencing proposal doesn’t meet these guidelines, you will need a building permit.

Fence lengths on side or rear boundaries

Building regulations also apply to the maximum length of a home’s side or rear fences. Those that are more than 2 metres high and are built on, or within, 150mm of a side or rear property boundary, when combined with the length of any wall or carport must not be longer than:

  • 10 metres plus 25% of the remaining length of the allotment’s boundary
  • the length of any wall or carport on an adjoining allotment that is within 150mm of that allotment’s boundary and that abuts those fences
  • a fence built within 150mm of a side or rear boundary of an allotment must not be greater than:
    an average height of 3 metres
    and a maximum height of 3.6 metres along the boundary.

If a fence abuts an existing wall it may be built to the same height as that wall. The above provision does not apply to a fence if:

  • it is not more than 2.5 metres high
    AND
  • it complies with the statutory overlooking provisions
    AND
  • the area of fence between 2 metres and 2.5 metres in height has between 20% and 25% of its area open.

If you want to build a fence that doesn’t meet these specifications, you will need to apply for the consent and report of council.

If you would like clarification or advice about building a new fence, please contact Council’s Building Services Unit.

Please note that local councils in Victoria do not deal with fencing disputes. The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria may be able to assist on 9603 8370 or 1800 658 528.

What about fences that block sunlight from a neighbour’s property? 

If you are planning on building a fence that is more than two metres high and it blocks sunlight from a neighbour’s property, you may need to apply for council’s report and consent and get a building permit.  The same can apply for fences that are more than 2 metres high and effect sunlight reaching a neighbour’s outdoor space.

The requirements that apply to tall fences that affect sunlight to a neighbour’s property are complex. You may want to speak to a private building surveyor or to Councils’ Building Services Unit for advice.

What are the rules when using trellis or lattice?

Trellis and lattice are considered to be part of the fence. If any part of the fence and trellis or lattice is:

  • higher than 2 metres above ground level
  • opposite your own or your neighbour’s windows
  • on the boundary opposite north facing habitable windows

then specific rules apply. Please contact Council’s Building Services Unit for further advice.

Do I need other approvals?

In some cases, such as when the property is on a new estate, you may need approval from the estate developer as they may have special covenants in place for the estate. Please contact Council’s Planning Unit for further information.

Application checklist

Before you submit your application, please make sure you have included the following:

  • a signed and completed building permit application form
  • three copies of plans, which include a site plan showing:
    the location of the existing building(s) on the property
    the proposed fence
    locations of any windows opposite the fence
    details of the construction method and materials
    for a brick or masonry fence that does not meet the Brick Institute’s standard designs, include a building permit engineer’s computations supporting the design
    building fees and government levies
    other documentation required by the relevant building surveyor.

Where can I lodge an application?

You can lodge your building permit application at any council office or with any private building surveyor.  

For more information about fencing, go to www.fencingonline.com.au

Disputes over fencing

If you are having difficulty resolving a dispute over fencing with another property owner, please contact The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria on 5440 6100 or 1300 372 888. They can help you resolve issues with neighbours over things such as fences, noise, pets, trees, property damage or people’s behaviour.

There is a Fences Act in Victoria which provides a formal process for resolving fencing disputes. The costs of resolving the dispute should also be shared. It is worthwhile noting that taking a dispute over fencing to the Magistrates Court may cost more than the fence.

Victorian local councils cannot help with fencing disputes between neighbours.

Shared cost fencing

Property owners and their neighbours are responsible for sharing the cost of fencing. They must also agree on the fence style and the timing of fencing works.

Like many local community members, Campaspe Shire Council is a property owner. As such, council is sometimes obliged to share the cost of boundary fencing with neighbouring property owners.

This does not apply where property boundaries are aligned with streets, or where subdivision planning permits provide for alternative arrangements.

To obtain the adjoining property owner's address details, please complete this request form.

If you own a property which shares a common boundary with council land, you should write to Council's Property Manager outlining your fencing proposal.

Please see ‘Disputes over fencing’ for information on where to get help to resolve fencing issues with neighbours.