Fences and Retaining Walls

Approvals and permits required

If you intend to build a fence, retaining wall or embankment, you will need a building permit and/or planning approval from the City of Cockburn before work begins. 

More detailed information is provided in the sections below. If you have any questions please contact us.

Important notes: 

  • It is an offence to start construction work without a valid building permit or planning approval
  • Please obtain planning approval before you apply for a building permit.

Front fences 

Under the Building Code of Australia, a front fence is a Class 10b structure, screen wall, retaining wall or similar. It is located within the front setback area of a property. 

Property owners must ensure the proposed fence complies with the developer’s design guidelines and/or Local Development Plans.

You can perform a title search through Landgate to check for any existing encumbrances on the property.

A front fence can also be a dividing fence between properties. Refer to the dividing fences section.

Criteria for Council approval

Under the Residential Design Codes (R-Codes) and the City’s Fencing Local Law 2012, a front fence:

  • Must incorporate a 1.5m x 1.5m visual truncation on each side of any driveway if the proposed fence is over 750mm in height
  • Not exceed 750mm high within the 6m x 6m corner truncation area on corner lots without the standard street corner truncation
  • Must be visually permeable 1.2m above natural ground level (with the exception of properties fronting onto main arterial roads with high traffic volume)
  • Must be wholly located within the lot boundary (including all footings) and not encroach into the road reserve or verge
  • Can be made with brick, timber, wrought iron and tubular steel, or any other material approved in writing by the City. 

When is planning approval required for a front fence?

You need to obtain planning approval for a front fence if the proposed structure does not comply with the requirements under the R-Codes. Front fences in compliance with Parts 5.2.4 and 5.2.5 of the R-Codes do not require planning approval.

Important note: Please obtain planning approval before you lodge your building permit application.

Apply for planning approval

When is a building permit required for a front fence?

You need to obtain a building permit if your proposed front fence is masonry (limestone, brick or similar) and is higher than 750mm above ground level. 

Please refer to the checklist below for a list of documents you need to submit with your application.

Apply for a building permit

Dividing fences  

A dividing fence separates the land of different owners along the common boundary of adjoining lands or on either side of the common boundary. It is subject to an agreement between property owners.

If you are a property owner and want to build a dividing fence, you should know your obligations and responsibilities under the Dividing Fences Act 1961 before construction. 

Important note: The City does not administer the Act. Please direct any dividing fences disputes to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (formerly Building Commission).

Swimming pool fences

Swimming pool safety barrier

If a proposed front fence forms part of a mandatory swimming pool safety barrier, it must be 1.8m high. This is to comply with Australian Standard 1926.1 – 2012 (Safety Barriers for Swimming Pools).

You will need to apply for planning approval as the front fence will exceed 1.2m in height.

Apply for planning approval

Retaining walls

Retaining walls on adjacent lot boundaries

You must maintain the natural ground level and any existing surcharge load at the lot boundary. If you fill above or excavate below ground level, you must provide a retaining wall.

Retaining walls can be made from durable materials such as brick, limestone, concrete or similar.

When is a planning approval required for a retaining wall?

If the proposed retaining wall is 500mm or higher above natural ground, please obtain planning approval before work begins.

Apply for planning approval

When is a building permit required for a retaining wall?

A building permit for a retaining wall is required:-

  • Where the retaining wall exceeds 500mm in height (inclusive of any embedment) above natural ground level, or;
  • Where the wall, regardless of height, is associated with other building work, or;
  • Where the wall, regardless of height, is associated with protecing the land on which the wall is located.

Applications for retaining walls are to include structural engineering plans for the proposed retaining wall (endorsed by the structural engineer in writing). 

Apply for a building permit

More information and contact

For information on fencing requirements, please contact 08 9411 3444 or email [email protected].

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City of Cockburn
Whadjuk Boodja
9 Coleville Crescent,
Spearwood 6163

PO Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965

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Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)

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Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaadatj dayin boodja, kep wer malayin. Ngalak kaadatj koora koora wer yeyi ngalang birdiya.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for Country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past and present.