The preparation of accurate and comprehensive surveys is critical to the planning application and development process in order to ensure the accuracy of drawings submitted with planning applications, allow for a fully informed assessment of the application to be made and ensure that a proposal can be realistically implemented whilst protecting developers against additional costs later in the process. The purpose of this guidance note is to provide clarity and consistency by setting out when surveys are required, what must be included on a survey and which type of survey will be needed.
A survey will typically be required for all planning applications for development (“DAP1 applications”) and for subdivision (“DAP2 applications”). The requirement for a survey may occasionally be waived, however written confirmation of such must be obtained from the Department of Planning prior to the application being made. In addition, depending on the scope of the project, a partial survey of the area of the proposed development rather than the entire site may suffice in some instances.
Applications are likely to be rejected upon receipt if they do not include an appropriate survey or written confirmation from the Department that the requirement for a survey can be waived.
Proposals for which the requirement for a survey would typically be waived are listed below. However, it must be noted that this is an indicative list and there will be occasions, based on site conditions, policy provisions and the particular nature of a proposal, where a survey will be required for those types of projects.
All requests for survey waivers must be made via the Department’s Customer Self-Service (CSS) portal by clicking ‘Apply’ alongside ‘Survey Waiver’. A short application form will need to be completed for the request to be considered, including a concise description of the proposed development on page 2 of the form. All drawings to be submitted with the planning application must be included in the survey waiver request. The Department may withdraw any waiver which is granted if the drawings submitted with the application differ from those on which the waiver was based or if unforeseen circumstances are encountered by technical officers following further assessment of the application. If a survey waiver is granted, the subsequent DAP1 application must include the email confirmation from the Department, in PDF format.
In all cases, a survey submitted with a planning application must be an original unaltered digital (PDF) version produced by a registered surveyor on the surveyor’s title block. The survey must be up to date so that it accurately reflects on-site conditions at the time the application is made and must include the following:
For the avoidance of doubt, neither a deed plan nor a registered final plan of subdivision will be accepted in place of a survey given that they do not provide the requisite level of detail based on all factors which must be considered by a surveyor. For instance, it may be unclear whether a deed plan is the most recent for the site or whether a plan of subdivision has been conveyed; it is beyond the remit of the Department of Planning to make these assessments.
It is accepted that, due to accessibility reasons, it may not be possible to accurately survey the full extent of land within 15 feet of the application site. In such cases, indicative details will suffice provided that this is noted on the survey.
In cases where you are unclear whether a survey is required or what information a survey must contain, it is recommended that you seek advice from the Department prior to submitting an application.
There are three types of surveys which are submitted with planning applications; a boundary survey, a topographical survey and a marine survey.
A boundary survey is required on sites which are broadly flat or where there is no significant variance in topography in the location affected by the application and no re-grading is proposed.
A topographical survey is required for topographically challenging sites or where re-grading is proposed. These surveys must include all details set out above in addition to the surveyed contours of the site based on field work at appropriate horizontal intervals (typically three feet).
A marine survey is required for applications proposing docks or floating docks where the applicant is required to demonstrate that the dock is required to gain access to a specified depth of water at low tide. A marine survey may also be required for an application proposing a foreshore revetment in order to establish an appropriate extent and design of such a scheme. In all cases, depth measurements must be taken at mean low tide and such surveys must include the precise location of the high water mark and identify any protected species, including corals, within proximity.
Setting out involves having particular features of a survey physically marked on site by a registered surveyor. This would typically be the boundaries of a lot and, in the case of marine development, it is recommended that the location of a dock / floating dock be marked out along the high water mark and in the water where the dock is proposed prior to the application being submitted; confirmation that this has been done should be included with the application. A request for setting out will typically be made on a case by case basis depending on the physical characteristics of a site and nature of a proposed development or may be required during the building permit process.