Multi-unit developments

A multi-unit development is when more than one dwelling is built on a single lot, including more than one house, unit or townhouse.

You always need a planning permit to build more than one dwelling on a lot.

Multi-unit plans and designs

Merri-bek Planning Scheme requirements

Council uses ResCode (Clause 55 of the Merri-bek Planning Scheme) to assess planning permit applications for multi-unit developments.

For more information about how Clause 55 applies to multi-unit developments, see:

We also refer to other planning provisions to help determine the size and scale of multi-unit developments, including Urban Village Policy, Neighbourhood Character Policy and Development of Four or More Storeys Policy which are part of the Merri-bek Planning Scheme.

A multi-unit development design must also appropriately respond to:

  • the properties on either side and at the back
  • the surrounding neighbourhood, and
  • the particular features and constraints of the site.

For further details see: 

Number of dwellings

Council decides how many dwellings you can build based on the overall design of your proposed development. There is no formula of dwelling numbers per lot size.

It is not about how many dwellings could fit on a lot, but whether or not the proposal meets the requirements of the ResCode and whether it fits with the character of the local area.

There are many factors that affect how many dwellings you can build, including:

  • site orientation to the sun in relation to shadowing on neighbouring properties
  • car parking and space for cars to turn
  • windows on the abutting land that are close to the boundary, and
  • the slope of the land.

Other requirements for multi-unit developments

Development Contributions Plan levy

The Development Contribution Plan (DCP) is a levy for developments that are proposing to increase the number of dwellings on a site or increase leasable commercial or industrial floor area.

See Merri-bek Development Contribution Plan (DCP) for further details.

Environmentally sustainable design

Environmentally sustainable design is the use of design principles and strategies that help reduce the environmental impact of buildings. This includes reductions in greenhouse gases, potable water usage, resources going to landfill, and an overall improvement in the quality of stormwater running to our creeks and rivers.

Council is committed to creating an environmentally sustainable city. A critical component in achieving this commitment is to encourage new development to meet appropriate environmental standards. Applicants are encouraged to use a sustainable design assessment.

Trees and landscape

Use the Merri-bek Tree Finder tool to find suitable tree species for spaces in your development.

Tree location or main purpose

Applying for a planning permit

Council strongly encourages all applicants for multi-unit development planning permits to contact Council to organise a pre-application meeting before they submit the application. This is a free service and assists Council to assess your application and help avoid delays in the approval process.

To apply for a planning permit for a multi-unit development you need a qualified planning consultant, such as a qualified architect or draftsperson, to help you submit a planning permit application and prepare documentation, including detailed plans.

You can submit the application and pay the fee online. 

For step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a planning permit and what information you need to submit with the application, see planning process.