Researching Development Applications

By Justin Eslick
Whenever we are conducting due diligence on a property, Investigate Property will always include within its extensive research some investigations into development applications in the general area, even if the property is not a development site. We'll search the subject property, the street and the street behind, and we do this for a number of reasons.

1) To know if the subject site has any history

Its rare, but occasionally we'll find an existing approval that the agent hasn't told us about. Slightly more common is we'll find an old approval that has expired. Still valuable. Sometimes we'll discover the approval for what we are buying, but what we are buying looks different to the plans - this should ring alarm bells. Every now and then we'll even discover a refusal to a development application for the subject site. This might sound bad, and it is if the application was straightforward, but often they are refused due to poor communication between council and the applicant, a gross over-development of the site, or a situation where the proponent is refusing to budge on particular issues. If you can recognise these problems and solve them, you may well be on your way to an acceptable outcome.

2) To know what is going on around you

You may find approvals neighbouring your site that could affect the value (negatively or positively), or that may provide for opportunity such as an increase in height. Maybe your rear neighbour has approval - perhaps that approval includes a provision for them to provide stormwater drainage to your site - what a fantastic discovery this is!

3) For inspiration

What are others doing or what have they done? Why is one development worth much more than another? What have they been able to get away with? Can you apply it to your site?

4) To know if there is anything to be concerned about

What if a nearby property owner really had to fight to obtain their approval? Most development applications allow for the lodgement of submissions. This is where the community can voice their support, or more commonly, their concerns about a development. How active is the community? Are you likely to have a battle on your hands as well?

Searching Applications

Most developments across Australia are required to advertise their proposals publicly, though which developments will depend on their size and council or State Government requirements. In the internet age, most are accessible by anyone online, so it is very easy to conduct this research. Head to your local council's website as a starting point. In QLD, you are looking for 'P and D Online'.

Don't get caught!

It would be embarrassing as property investors to discover that you are negatively affected by a development that was in the pipeline and easily viewable prior to you purchasing your property. It would also be a wasted opportunity if you discover you could have managed more on your site had you discovered next door had an existing approval. Don't forget, most approvals last for a couple of years so there are plenty in existence that have not yet been constructed. You can't just look at a site and know all it's secrets - so start researching development applications!

Investigate Property are Buyer's Agents of investment property in Brisbane. If you are interested in buying a property with a twist for under market value, then visit

© Investigate Property Pty Ltd, 2013

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