The Residential Design Codes explained – one piece at a time.

Issue 2: R-Codes Clause 5.2.5 – Sight lines – C5

The ‘deemed-to-comply’ provision outlined for the aforementioned clause states the following:

C5 – Walls, fences and other structures truncated or reduced to no higher than 0.75m within 1.5m of where walls, fences, other structures adjoin vehicle access points where a driveway meets a public street and where two streets intersect (refer Figure Series 9).

You may be thinking – What does this mean exactly? What if I want to have a sliding gate along the driveway? These are space efficient, easy to use, and many houses already have them right next to the street verge!

While many older and traditional houses may have street fencing built right up the street boundary, the dominance of private vehicles as the primary mode of transport has led to an increasing focus on driver and pedestrian safety. Requiring height restrictions of structures within the ‘visual truncation’ areas are a way of ensuring that drivers are better able to observe whether there is anyone approaching from either side of the street, and/or if anyone is approaching along a footpath.

For this reason, that the Residential Design Codes has featured the aforementioned deemed-to-comply provision since at least the beginning of this century.

However, prior to 2013 it was more likely that variations to the requirement would be accepted. Under the “old R-Codes”, the Design Principle associated with then Clause 6.2.6 – Sight lines at vehicle access points and street corners, stated the following (in 2011):

P6 – Walls or fences to primary or secondary streets, rights-of-way or communal streets so that adequate sight lines are provided at vehicle access points.

Since the “new R-Codes”, which has been in practice since 2013, the equivalent Clause 5.2.5 – Sight lines provides the following Design Principle (as of 2018)

P5 – Unobstructed sight lines provided at vehicle access points to ensure safety and visibility along vehicle access ways, streets, rights-of-way, communal streets, crossovers, and footpaths.

Where-as the former Design Principle requests the applicant and their design to demonstrate that adequate sightlines are provided (in instances where the 1.5m by 1.5m truncations haven’t been provided), the current Design Principle specifies the requirement for “Unobstructed sight lines”, and also adds an emphasis on safety which encompasses crossovers (where the driveway “touches” the street), and footpaths, as well as streets. The altering of the wording as such means that the scope to allow for variations has narrowed, and that assessing planning officers are obliged to interpret the provision more strictly.

Although there is still scope to propose a variation to the ‘deemed-to-comply’ requirement (and in a few instances, local planning policies have allowed for greater flexibility), the design would need to be much more convincing. It would not be unreasonable to consider a Traffic Impact Assessment, depending on the extent of the variation, nature of the design, and how strict the local government planning department interprets the design principle.

Alternatively, you could simply provide the visual sightline truncations when designing your fencing and letter boxes, or shift the fencing back from the street boundary so you can install that sliding gate you’ve always dreamed of, and have fencing framed by landscaping.

Now that you’ve finished reading about sight lines, feel free to email us with a few lines of text, or to check your phone line by calling us. We always have your interest in our sight!