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Low Level Properties

 

Downloads- Click Here to access standard letters and brochures.

 

*** ISC provides the information below in good faith to assist in the general procedure in obtaining an easement. It does not in any way or shape imply or infer any design intent, or council approval. The accuracy of the advice is based on third party information which cannot be warranted. Its accuracy is based on information at hand, and does not constitute what a local council may invoke.

 

Does your front footpath area look like this?

 

Are you on the low side of the road?

 

Have you been told you need an easement and don't know how to go about it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basically the area between your front kerb and boundary is council owned and most councils require that the drainage from a property be conveyed across this area via gravity means. So as you can see from the photos for a pipeline to travel across this area with a fall to the street, it would need to connect to a council pipeline in the street as the kerb is too high.

 

In some cases gravity fall across the footpath may be achievable, however, if the property itself (i.e. front to rear boundary) falls to the rear with any degree, council will still generally classify the property as low level and require the steps below carried out.

 

Many councils impose a strict design procedure to be followed if your property falls in this category. Reasons are explained at the bottom of this page.

 

The options that some councils allow in order of preference are:

 

1. An easement through your side or rear neighbour in order to connect your drainage to their street frontage which is lower than your property. Explained further below. Note: ISC DOES NOT CARRY OUT THIS PROCESS. GUIDANCE FOR CLIENTS IS ONLY GIVEN VIA THIS WEBSITE. YOU NEED TO ENGAGE A SURVEYOR AND SOLICITOR TO OBTAIN AND REGISTER THE EASEMENT.

 

2. An absorption / dispersion system. (Used to be called Rubble pits) Generally only allowed in sandy/clay soils. Most council restrict total hard surface area allowed per property as a percentage of the site area. Commonly 30-35%. So without an easement a proposed home can be significantly restricted in size. Site coverage is not as most people think being the building footprint or floor area. Its actually the roof area plus all external hard surfaces proposed on ground, such as the driveway, pathways, pools (including water surface with some councils) etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Everglass absorption trench system under construction.

 

3. A charged system. Only some council allow this for single dwellings. Basically works by having a sealed pipe system where the top of the pipe (your downpipe) is higher than the kerb.

 

4. A pump out system. Again only a couple of councils allow it, and is generally a very costly option to comply with council requirements.

 

 

 

Easements

 

The first course a property owner wishing to undertake any redevelopment of their property must take, is to approach the adjoining down-slope owners to request that an easement be granted for the purpose of draining stormwater to Council's drainage system. Click the download link at the top to access standard letters.

 

Please note that majority of single dwelling builders will NOT perform the task of obtaining an easement or constructing the pipeline in it, or investigating it. It will be the owners sole responsibility in providing the evidence that the easement exists and is functional. ISC's role is only to provide initial advice as below and possibly design the pipeline in the easement if the owner's surveyor or plumber do not provide that service. If this is required ISC will require a detailed contoured survey of all the properties affected and copies of the proposed easement drawings. This service will be costed separately to any services provided by your builder.

 

A common misunderstanding is what an easement is. An easement is a registered legal right over a property for a designated purpose such as drainage. It does not imply that a pipe or pit exists or is proposed in the easement. Being the beneficiary of an easement entitles you the rights to the purpose of the easement. Speak to your solicitor to confirm whether you have any easements on title that your a beneficiary too.

 

A simple example :

 

Bob's property falls to the rear, so when it rains the water flows towards his rear or side fences. Bob now wants to develop his property. His first step is to check with his solicitor or surveyor to see if an existing easement on his rear neighbours property exists, and that he is a beneficiary to it. He also needs to confirm that the easement reaches a road frontage, stormwater canal or creek. Click on your appropriate situation to see what's next.

 

Case 1.

 

Bob's Solicitor/Surveyor don't find any easement on title. Click here-->

 

Case 2.

 

Bob's Solicitor/Surveyor finds an easement on title, that he is NOT a beneficiary too. Click here-->

 

Case 3.

 

Bob's Solicitor/Surveyor find an easement on title, that he is a beneficiary too. Click here-->

 

 

 

Case 1.

 

Bob is required to approach his neighbours to negotiate in obtaining an easement over their property which would commonly be 1m wide along their side boundary. ISC can provide advise on what width of easement may be required, and what if any other issues may need to be addressed. Typically a 150mm diameter pipe in a 300-500mm deep trench is created in the 1m wide easement with 450mm square boundary pits at either end. This may vary depending on the site conditoins and constraints.

 

 

 

 

Use google maps to type in your full address and get an aerial map of your adjoining neighbours to see where best to locate an easement.

 

Bob should take along with him a copy of the above file named "Low Level Properties", so as to inform the rear neighbours the benefits of providing an easement, as opposed to refusing. The neighbour should be made aware that council may insist that Bob take his rear neighbour to Court, who under section 88k of the Act, can force a downstream owner to provide an easement provide reasonable compensation is made and no major adversity will occur if the easement is provided. Note: A common question Bob asks is what if I don't want get an easement from my neighbour as I hear it costs too much? Unfortunately the decision to get an easement or not is only Bob's neighbour. If they are willing to give Bob an easement then Bob must go down that path. Only Bob's neighbour can refuse to grant an easement not Bob.

 

If the neighbour agrees to providing an easement, Bob should ensure that they sign the appropriate form confirming such, in order to submit his proposal to council. (These forms are be available online by clicking on Downloads at the top of this page, otherwise you can obtain them from your local council).

 

Bob then approaches his Solicitor and Surveyor to register the easement on their neighbours property as soon as possible.

 

When Bob is ready to commence construction, he will need to construct the pipe and pits in the easement, as approved by council, (which ISC has would have gladly designed), by providing sufficient notice to his neighbour and complying with conditions on the easement such as reinstatement of any landscaping.

 

Bob can now happily complete construction of his property. Back to Top.

 

Case 2.

 

Bob needs to approach his neighbours to explain that he requires to be added as a beneficiary to the easement on their property. Once agreed Bob approaches his Solicitor and Surveyor to register the new 88B on the easement on their neighbours property as soon as possible. (An 88B instrument is a legal term for a set of conditions that are applicable to an easement, such as who is the beneficiary and what if any limitations exists.)

 

When Bob is ready to commence construction, he will need to construct the pipe and pits in the easement, as approved by council, (which ISC has would have gladly designed), by providing sufficient notice to his neighbour and complying with conditions on the easement such as reinstatement of any landscaping.

 

Even if the pipe and pits already exists they will need to be re-assessed to determine their condition and capacity, that they can accommodate the additional flows, and that the life expectancy of the pipe is to council's satisfaction

 

Bob can now happily complete construction of his property. Back to Top.

 

Case 3.

 

Lucky Bob!!! He can submit his application to council.

 

When Bob is ready to commence construction, he will need to construct the pipe and pits in the easement, as approved by council, (which ISC has would have gladly designed), by providing sufficient notice to his neighbour and complying with conditions on the easement such as reinstatement of any landscaping.

 

Even if the pipe and pits already exists they will need to be re-assessed to determine their condition and capacity, that they can accommodate the additional flows, and that the life expectancy of the pipe is to council's satisfaction

 

Bob can now happily complete construction of his property. Back to Top.

 

 

 

Reason behind council policies.

 

A significant number of Development Applications received by Councils for dwellings are on the low side of the road. Up until now most houses built on these properties have either had direct access to a drainage easement, or have drained to a rubble pit, or to a dispersion trench. These dispersion structures have often proved ineffective, with pits being placed in clay (highly impermeable) or cut into solid rock in order to meet Council’s drainage requirements, or are under the required size to disperse the expected loading. This means that stormwater fills the trench and then surcharges, flowing overland through downstream properties.

 

As houses and related hardened areas have become larger, increasing the amount of runoff and decreasing the amount of landscaped area, these systems have become increasingly ineffective.  Many of these newer houses are situated such that there is only a metre between the house and the side boundaries, leaving only 2 metres for sheet flow to pass between the dwellings.

 

This results in increased depth and velocity of sheet flows, further increasing scour, erosion, and nuisance flooding.

 

Thus the development of properties on the low side of the street that do not have the benefit of a drainage easement is very limited due to the potential impact of the stormwater runoff from the increase in the impervious area on adjoining properties.

 

There are several options for property owners in this situation however Councils will generally not approve stormwater systems which drain against the natural grade of the land, without showing that the an alternative will not be adverse to the surrounding properties.