Beginners guide to dual occupancy

Questions in relation to dual occupancies or duplexes are one of our most common questions we get from our phone and email enquiries and particularly after COVID everyone is wanting to maximise on the land that they have, or make money on the land they want! We have had a lot of first time developers reach out to us for assistance in helping them understand the things to look for when picking sites. So we thought we would put together a bit of information to assist with the pain of trying to understand zoning, CDCs and all the clauses within the LEP and other pieces of legislation.

Below is a breakdown of some of the information that might help you make a more informed decision before purchasing a block of land, or even figuring out what your development potential is for your current block!


This is one of the most common questions that we receive and the answer to the question can often be simply obtained without needing to spend money on a private planner. All you need to understand is what is allowed on my property….

Before you start doing too much research your first stop is to figure out what the zoning of your property is. You can do this by checking you Planning Certificate (with you contract of sale) or through search on the planning portal. The NSW Planning Portal is one of the most important tools that is used in our research! 

The first thing you will need to look at while on the Planning Portal is whether dual occupancy is allowed on your property. To check whether it is allowed you will need to check the zoning table for your zone!


The zoning of a land is something that you might hear but might not understand or until now you might not have been worried to care about it! The zoning of a site is related to what you can and can’t do with your land and is found within the Local Environmental Plan in what is called a Zoning Table, and example of a zoning table is provided below:

Zone R2   Low Density Residential
1   Objectives of zone

  To provide for the housing needs of the community within a low density residential environment.

  To enable other land uses that provide facilities or services to meet the day to day needs of residents.

  To provide for a limited range of other land uses of a low intensity and scale, compatible with surrounding land uses.

2   Permitted without consent

Home businesses; Home occupations

3   Permitted with consent

Bed and breakfast accommodation; Boarding houses; Boat sheds; Building identification signs; Business identification signs; Centre-based child care facilities; Community facilities; Dual occupancies; Dwelling houses; Environmental protection works; Exhibition homes; Group homes; Health consulting rooms; Home-based child care; Home industries; Jetties; Oyster aquaculture; Places of public worship; Pond-based aquaculture; Respite day care centres; Roads; Secondary dwellings; Tank-based aquaculture; Veterinary hospitals; Water recreation structures

4   Prohibited

Any development not specified in item 2 or 3

Before getting into the zoning you need to know how to understand what certain definitions are and how to read them….


To understand the zoning tables you need to understand the definitions of the land uses that are included within the zoning table. 

The definitions are located within the LEP in an area title as Dictionary at the end of the LEP.  

It is noted that dual occupancy has two types 

Zoning Table

To zoning table is made up of four parts:

Part 1 – Objectives of zone

This is something that explains what the zoning is trying to achieve and is also something that is use by town planners to argue whether a development should be approved or refused during the development process. This is something you don’t need to consider too much but just know this is what is this is for.

Part 2 – Permitted without consent

Permitted without consent means that what ever is included within this area can be done without the consent from Council (or anyone). Usually this does not include much and is usually limited to home businesses or the like. Further development that is permitted without consent is outlined in the exempt provisions within the Exempt and Complying development SEPP.

Part 3 – Permitted with Consent

Permitted with consent means that the definitions listed within the zoning table are permitted WITH consent. This can be either through a development application or through a complying development certificate.

Part 4 – Prohibited 

This area is the one you need to check. If dual occupancies is listed within this area then it is not permissible. Additionally the zoning might state that “Any development not specified in item 2 or 3” is prohibited and therefore if it is not listed in either 2 or 3 of the zoning table then it is not permissible.

Other LEP Clauses

The Local Environmental Plan is broken into “PARTS” with the first three parts of the LEP mainly being irrelevant to most people but the main areas of the LEP to look at for dual occupancy is Part 4 which mainly deals with the main development standards such as minimum lot sizes, maximum heights of building and floor space ratios. The screenshot below shoes an example of Part 4 of an LEP (Pittwater LEP) which shows clause 4.1B that prescribes a minimum lot size for dual occupancies. It is suggested that you do read each of the clauses within Part 4 as sometimes some of the subclauses allow for some better outcomes for development such as smaller lot sizes or better floor space ratios etc.


Complying Development Certificate (CDC)


Development Control Plan

The development control plan is a non legislative Council guideline for development and is often difficult to navigate as no DCP is set out the same way. Figuring out the DCPs is 

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