Retaining Wall

A retaining wall is a wall or structure designed and constructed to support soil at a slope steeper than can naturally be supported.

What can I build?

Retaining walls can be constructed using bricks, limestone/concrete blocks, post and panel, timber sleepers or stone pitching.

Retaining walls that retain more than 0.5m of soil must be setback a minimum of 1m from any boundary. If it is a requirement for a retaining wall to be closer than this, an application will need to be made to the City to vary the Residential Design Codes through a development approval.

Property owners either side of a boundary retaining wall are responsible for retaining and maintaining the land that is within their boundary.

Do I need a building permit?

The Building Regulations 2012 states that construction, erection, assembly or placement of a retaining wall that retains ground no more than 500mm in height and is not associated with any other building work or with the protection of land adjoining the land on which the retaining wall is proposed does not require a Building Permit.

Retaining walls along boundaries will require a Building Permit regardless of height.

How long does it take to get a building permit for a retaining wall?

The Building Act 2011 sets time frames in which the City has to assess and determine an application for a Building Permit. The applicable timeframe depends on whether the building application is Uncertified or Certified.

It is important that you are aware of allowed time frames prior to lodging your application and that your application documentation is complete.

Should further information be required by the City in order to assess the building application, the applicant may be given up to 21 calendar days in which to provide the outstanding information. If the information is not received within the 21 days, the application may be refused unless a mutual consent has been granted for a further 21 days.

Uncertified Building Applications (BA2)

An Uncertified Building Application can be submitted for Class 10 structures such as a retaining wall.

The City has up to 25 business days from the date of lodgment to assess the application and issue a Building Permit. The required Certificate of Design Compliance will be issued by the City as part of the application process.

Certified Building Applications (BA1)

A Certified Building Application can be submitted for all Class of structures.

Prior to lodging a Certified Building Application to the City, a private Building Surveying Practitioner would need to be engaged to issue a Certificate of Design Compliance.

The City has up to 10 business days from the date of lodgement to assess the application and issue a Building Permit.

How long until my permit expires?

A Building Permit is generally valid for two years from the date on which it was granted.

If more time is required to complete the building works, you can apply for an extension of time of up to a further six months by making a formal application and paying the prescribed fee.

What happens when I have completed my building works?

The nominated builder on the Building Permit must submit a Notice of Completion BA7 form to the City within seven days of completing the prescribed building works.


If you would like to submit an application to build a retaining wall, you will need to include the following information in your application:

  • A complete BA1 (certified) or BA2 (uncertified) application form
    • Including all owner's details, construction materials and costings
    • Signed by a registered builder, including the builder's registration number or owner-builder approval where the value of works is greater than $20,000
    • Including applicant's contact details
    • A signed BA20 providing consent from neighbouring property owners for all encroachments and adverse effect to any affected boundary (where applicable) .

BA1 & BA2 application forms are available from the City's website, Building and Energy or from the front counter of the City's Administration Centre

  • A Certificate of Design Compliance.

This must be issued by a registered Building Surveying Practitioner and include all documentation as referenced on the Certificate of Design Compliance

  • Payment of fees

Refer to the City's Fees and Charges for full fee details (here). Fee details are also available from the front counter of the City's Administration Centre.

  • Building Construction Industry Training Fund (BCITF) levy payment form (for building works greater than $20,000)

Required in full and signed for works over $20,000 - refer to the City's Fees and Charges for details click (here).

  • Site plan drawn to scale (1:200), showing:
    • Location of the proposed retaining wall
    • Location of all existing structures on the property
    • Measurement from the boundaries to the proposed retaining wall
    • Location of any septic tanks and leach drains (if applicable)
  • Construction details drawn to scale (1:100), showing:
    • Cross-section details
    • Ground levels, current and proposed to be clearly indicated
    • Top and bottom heights of the new retaining wall in relation to the natural ground level to be indicated
  • Structural Engineer's certification
    • Footing details suitable for the type wall to be constructed
    • Detail of subsoil drainage and the redirection and storage of storm water.

More information

This information is intended as a guide only. The City disclaims any liability for damages sustained by a person acting on the basis of this information.

For more information please contact the City's building services team on 9273 6000 or email

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