RZ1 Rule changes in Territory plan

There is a lot of buzz at the moment in the ACT regarding the new rule changes coming into effect the 27th November 2023 in the Territory plan. 

We are writing this to make clear identification of the rules, regulations and details to help you understand if it is right for your situation and block. 

What is the difference between unit tile and sub division?



Subdivision. Means the surrender of one or more leases held by the same lessee, and the granting of new leases to separate those parcels of land.


RZ2 blocks can now be subdivided with the vacant block being sold off. You no longer need to develop that new parcel of land before selling.

RZ2 blocks will now allow more medium density developments

Unit title


Unit title is a type of property ownership where home owners own a defined part of a building such as an apartment, generally known as a unit. They also have shared ownership, as tenants in common, of common areas such as lifts, lobbies or driveways. These areas are known as common property.


RZ1 block can now consist of a dual occupancy up to 120m2 that can be unit titled.

RZ1 can unit title with a body corporate and sell the ‘units’ separately. 

Unit title for RZ1 block rules:

Tree planting requirements
Plot ratio
Site coverage
Private open space requirements
Solar envelope
Updated setbacks
Government fees
Timings- Build, then unit title, then sell.



2 parking spaces for the main/existing residence PLUS

2 car spaces for the new dwelling/unit.

Therefore 4 in total.

One for each dwelling MUST be undercover.

Therefore 2 undercover in total.

Each set of 2 car parking spaces is required to have seperate access to the exit. For example, a clear common driveway for both parking bays to use. 


We are not aware of any car parking requirements changing in the territory plan therefore please consider that it will likely stay as per above. 



For blocks over 800m2 one medium tree and one large tree must be planted OR one additional large tree or two additional medium trees for each additional 800m2 block area (or equivalent existing tree/s). This needs to be shown on plan that the canopy diameter can fit on the site of each tree planted prior to approval and the owner needs to sign a statuary declaration to plant these trees. 

Table 7a: Tree sizes and associated planting requirements

Tree size

Mature height

Minimum canopy diameter***

Minimum soil surface area dimension

Minimum pot size (litres)*

Minimum soil volume

Small Tree






Medium Tree






Large Tree








For the purposes of this table, a tree is defined as a woody perennial plant suitable for the Canberra climate. Any new trees cannot be a plant described in schedule 1 of the Pest Plants and Animals (Pest Plants) Declaration 2015 (No 1) or any subsequent declaration made under section 7 of the Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005, unless the tree is included on the ACT tree register.

*Minimum pot size refers to the container size of new trees prior to planting.

**The maximum pot size for small, medium and large eucalyptus sp. trees if selected is 45 litres, with maximum height at planting of 2.5m and maximum trunk caliper of 3cm.

***Provided the minimum canopy diameter of the respective tree size can be met, this can be counted as meeting the tree size requirement.

Table 7b: Tree sizes – equivalents for existing trees

Tree size

Tree sizes – Equivalent

Small Tree

An existing tree of a larger size category can also substitute for a planting requirement for a smaller tree

Medium Tree

2 small existing trees

Large Tree

4 existing small trees or

2 existing medium trees or

1 existing medium tree plus 2 existing small trees


To meet the planting requirements, trees must be planted in the ground in a deep soil zone. This means that the trees cannot be in pots or planter boxes. Areas over basements are not counted as deep soil zones.


As these are relatively new changes the above stands as current and projected future regulations. 



What is plot ratio? Plot ratio is a provision of the Territory Plan that directly controls the overall bulk and scale of development on a particular site. Other controls such as setbacks, open space, height and building envelope can also assist in controlling the overall bulk and scale of development.

Current rules:

a) for large blocks, other than those referred to in item b) in the territory plan – not more than 50%

For the purpose of calculating plot ratio for this rule, the gross floor area includes 18m2 for each roofed car space provided to meet Territory requirements for resident car parking, but does not include basement car parking.

Potential Changes:

Site coverage mandatory but plot ratio will be discretionary.

Basements will no longer be included in the Plot Ratio calculations and the ability have a Habitable Basement (as long as it meets the NCC requirements), can be built under a 2 storey development (meaning 3 storeys total).



Site coverage means the proportion of actual site covered by buildings, including roofed terraces, pergolas, patios, decks and balconies but excluding any part of awnings, eaves and the like. Planting area.


Site coverage and vehicle parking and manoeuvring areas is limited to: a) maximise outdoor areas that are readily accessible by residents for a range of uses and activities b) provide adequate space for service functions such as clothes drying and domestic storage c) provide adequate planting area on the site.

Site coverage is a maximum of:

a) for large blocks 800m2>: 40% of the block area

Potential Changes:

Site coverage will be mandatory but plot ratio will be discretionary.



Private open space, otherwise known as POS. Means an outdoor area within a block useable for outdoor living activities, and may include balconies, terraces or decks. Rear boundary. There are minimum requirements per dwelling for POS.


For large blocks approved under an estate development plan on land for which the original Crown lease was granted on or after 1 January 2020, private open space complies with ALL of the following:

a) has a minimum area equal to 60% of the block area, less 50m2

b) has a minimum dimension of 6m for an area not less than 10% of the block

c) at least 50% of the minimum area specified in a) is planting area.


It is our understanding that the previsions regarding to the Private Open Space (POS) requirements will become universal for all blocks across the ACT regardless of the Crown Lease date.



The solar envelope is a construct of space and time: the physical boundaries of surrounding properties and the period of their assured access to sunshine.


This rule applies to blocks approved under an estate development plan on or after 5 July 2013 but does not apply to that part of a building that is required to be built to a boundary of the block by a precinct code.

Buildings are sited wholly within the solar building envelope formed by planes projected over the subject block at Xo to the horizontal from the height of the ‘solar fence’ on any northern boundary of an adjoining residential block. X° is the apparent sun angle at noon on the winter solstice. Values for X are given in Table 1. The height of the ‘solar fence’ is:

i) in the primary building zone – 3m

ii) all other parts of the boundary – 2.3m This rule does not apply to those parts of a boundary where the adjacent part of the adjoining residential block comprises only an access driveway (i.e. a “battleaxe handle”). The previous rule applies to this part of the boundary. An example of a typical building envelope is shown at Figure

1.Buildings achieve all of the following:

a) consistency with the desired character

b) do not overshadow the windows of habitable rooms (other than bedrooms) of any dwelling on an adjoining residential block at noon on the winter solstice to a greater extent than the height of the ‘solar fence’ on a northern boundary of that block

c) do not overshadow any principal private open space on an adjoining residential block at noon on the winter solstice to a greater extent than the height of the ‘solar fence’ on a northern boundary of that block

d) reasonable levels of solar access for dwellings on adjoining residential blocks and their associated private open space

e) where an adjoining residential block is not yet developed, the potential for reasonable solar access and privacy on the adjoining residential block(s) is maintained

Table 1 – Apparent sun angle (X) at noon on the winter solstice (21 June)

Aspect of northern boundary

(bearing of line drawn perpendicular to the boundary)

Angle (X)

North 0° to <10° East

North 0° to <10° West

31 o

North 10° to <20° East

North 10° to <20° West

32 o

North 20° to <30° East

North 20° to <30° West

34 o

North 30° to <40° East

North 30° to <40° West


North 40° to 45° East

North 40° to 45° West

39 o


There has been no comment on whether the Solar Envelope rules are changing to be more universal like the POS rules. One would suggest that they will be changing.


We have been told for the unit title process the additional fees are between 30k-75k each dwelling to change the lease on the block in order to unit title. This involves changing the current lease of the RZ1 block from 1 dwelling to 2 dwellings. If the lease of your block already states 2 dwellings, then these fee shouldn’t apply.
If you wish to clarify how much the fee would be for your block, they are advising your email or call the details below in order to find out:

What we know so far from the general submission fees on ACT Government website labelled: Unit Titles (Fees) Determination 2023 are as follows:

Section 11

Two Unit Residential Developments – where the number of proposed residential units is two




Section 11

Two to Four Unit Mixed Use or Commercial Developments – where the number of proposed commercial units is two, three or four


-unstaged development




-staged development




Section 154

Unit Title Fees – Other – Provisional building damage order certificate




Appoint Unit Titles Works Assessor (fee per unit)






Over 1.8m out of the ground (high) the setback will change to a two story structure regulation: Rear setback will change from 3m to 6m. Side setback of 1.5m will change to 3m.


Over 1.5m out of the ground (high) the setback will change: Rear setback will change from 3m to 6m. Side setback of 1.5m will change to 3m.



Step 1- Get plans drawn up

Step 2- Apply to EPSDD for unit title Development application approval

Step 3- Complete the BA (building apprval with private certifier) Likely your builder will complete this step for you

Step 4- Construct the dwelling

Step 5- Certifier obtains certificate of occupancy and use COU, EPSDD starts processing the unit tile request

Step 6- Once all approvals are complete and unit title is complete, you may sell the dwelling/ unit/s.

There is not an allowance for selling the land in an RZ1 block you must build on it prior to selling. 

Other changes to note:

  • Basement Car parking will also now be allowed under a 2 Storey Dwelling
  • Precinct Codes changing to District Strategies
  • Planning regulations and design guidelines becoming more Outcomes-focused.
  • Increased consideration of development impact on immediate neighbours
  • Adding new uses to zones
  • Site specific changes
  • 1N approvals will still be allowed.


In conclusion, to unit title your RZ1 block the above requirements will all need to be met and the build must be completed with a COU prior to the unit title being issued and being able to sell the property separately. 

We hope this has helped you understand the rules and regulations in the new territory plan for RZ1 blocks.

Any questions please email sales@thepodcanberra.com.au or call us on 1300 843 763

Information and editing received directly from: ACT Certification 

Territory plan, planning & development, definitions and more have been researched directly from: https://www.planning.act.gov.au/

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