Retaining Walls

A retaining wall is a wall that holds back or supports soil when the natural ground level has been altered. When a person ‘cuts' into the natural ground level, the soil on the high side is to be prevented from collapsing with the use of a wall. Alternatively when a person ‘fills' or provides extra soil where the natural ground slopes downwards, (to make it level) then the additional fill needs to be prevented from moving further down the incline. This again is achieved with the use of a retaining wall. Most commonly a retaining wall is required between neighbours who build on sloping sites.

The owner who alters the natural lie of the land is responsible to provide a retaining wall. However, where both property owners alter the land, they would be considered jointly responsible. The sharing of costs for the retaining is a civil matter that must be negotiated between neighbours.

Should only one property owner require a wall to be built on a boundary, the retaining wall itself must be entirely on one side with only the outside face of the wall on the boundary. Alternatively, if both neighbours share in the construction of the wall equally, the retaining wall should be built straddling the boundary.

Is Council Approval Required? A development application for a retaining wall is only required to be submitted to Council for assessment where the height of the retaining wall is one metre or greater.

The documents to be provided to Council for approval should include:

  • a detailed site plan indicating the location of the wall
  • elevations showing materials, finishes and height of the wall
  • construction details of how the wall will be constructed
  • engineer's calculations for the footings and wall

Click here for further information: Retaining Wall Fact Sheet(556 kb)