Do you need a permit for a retaining wall in Brisbane’s Southside?

When Permits Are Required for Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are a common feature on many residential properties across Brisbane’s Southside, used for landscaping, preventing erosion and creating usable level areas. However, depending on the size and purpose, a permit may be required from the local council before construction can begin.

Generally, a development approval permit is mandatory for retaining walls over 1 metre in height or any walls designed to support a slab, dwelling or outbuilding. 

The permit application needs to include full engineering plans and drawings from a certified professional that demonstrate the structural integrity of the proposed retaining wall based on the site’s specific soil conditions, drainage and load-bearing requirements.

The council will assess factors like:

Getting the right approvals ensures retaining walls are properly engineered and built to the relevant Australian Standards to prevent future issues. Major walls without permits could be forced to be removed by the council.

Assessing If Your Wall Needs a Permit

Does your planned retaining wall require a permit? There are a few key factors that determine whether council approval is mandatory:

Sandstone Retaining Walls Brisbane Southside

A full site assessment by an experienced professional is recommended to evaluate all these criteria specific to your property. They can advise if a permit is legally required based on the retaining wall plans.

When Retaining Walls Are Permit Exempt

For minor landscaping retaining walls under 1m, a council permit is generally not needed as long as they meet a few basic exemption criteria:

  • Not holding back soil supporting other structures
  • Not located within 1.5m of a building
  • Not impacting on overland drainage flows
  • No part extends over an easement or adjoining property

Rather than full permit approval, an advisory building application can be submitted to the council confirming the circumstances and intent of the works.

Even though under the permit threshold, all retaining walls should still be properly engineered and constructed to meet Australian Standards and avoid future failure or safety risks. Getting professional advice remains highly recommended.

Permit Process for Major Retaining Walls

For large-scale retaining walls over 1meter, swimming pool surrounds, or walls supporting a structure, the full council development approval process applies:


Engage a structural engineer to assess the site and design the retaining wall with detailed plans


Compile documentation, including drawings, engineering calculations, drainage plans, etc


Submit the development application to the council, including all documentation


The council will review and either approve or suggest amendments to the plans


Once approved, you receive a permit valid for 12-24 months


Construction is carried out strictly per the approved plans and inspected as required


At completion, you receive certification that it has been built per the approval

The entire permit process for major retaining walls can take 4-6 weeks, from document preparation to approval being granted. This timeframe needs to be factored into overall construction schedules.

Working With Retaining Wall Professionals

The most efficient way to handle the relevant paperwork and approvals is to engage professional retaining wall installers from the outset. Experienced companies will have all the accredited engineers and contractors ready to compile permit documentation.

This ensures:

Leaving the approval process to experienced retaining wall builders also assures you that work will be completed safely and per regulations.

Retaining Walls Brisbane Southside

Scheduling Mandatory Council Inspections

For approved retaining walls where a permit was required, there are typically several stages that need a council inspector to sign off before proceeding:

  • Site inspection before ground works commencing
  • Inspection of piers/footings before pouring concrete
  • Inspection of any reinforcing materials before backfilling
  • Final inspection on completion for certification

Experienced retaining wall contractors will coordinate all these mandatory inspections around their construction schedule to avoid costly delays. They understand the process and ensure every box is ticked for full approval.

Brisbane's Southside Retaining Specialists

Whether you need a small garden wall or large-scale structural retaining wall, our professionals can handle every aspect of design, engineering, documentation and council permits. We work frequently with all Brisbane Southside local councils to ensure compliance.

With decades of combined experience delivering quality, fully approved retaining walls, you can trust our capability. We prioritise open communication and keep you informed at every stage of approvals and construction.

Call today to arrange a site assessment and advise if your retaining wall requires a permit.

Scroll to Top