Do I Need Council Approval to Install a Shade Sail? A Complete Guide

If you’re planning on a shade sail installation (especially a large one) then it’s easy to focus on the design, cost and technical aspects of the shade sails themselves, but it’s also important to factor in whether you need local council permission.

Most people just presume that they don’t, however, this isn’t always the case. Whether or not you need council approval will depend on a wide range of factors so as ever, Shadeland is always here to help and guide you with our excellent customer service.

Planning and Building Permits

Planning permission ensures that you are in keeping with local regulations and schemes. These can vary over time and some are quite arbitrary so you’ll need to check. The legislation will cover things not just like permission, but obstructing views, build quality, safety, commercial factors and other things besides.

A building permit is required to ensure you are meeting the building codes of Australia and other relevant safety standards. Permits are required for anything that is considered a structure or alterations or extensions to ground levels including:

  • Commercial buildings including fit-outs and refurbishments
  • Preparing for building work, such as changing ground levels or site work
  • Carports, patios, sheds and garages
  • Front fences and retaining walls
  • Swimming pools and spas

Approval for Shade Sails

Planning approval is only required when your shade sail design varies to the standards of current design codes. In Townsville QLD, generally, shade sails are considered domestic outbuildings of either acceptable or assessable development depending on the size of the sail. While there are state guidelines, local councils all have their own rules. It’s important to check with your local council for their exact regulations as they have the final ruling. For most small domestic shade sails structures in homes, you probably won’t need permission but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check.

When You Will Require Planning Permission

You’ll almost definitely need permission if your property or commercial business is on a heritage site, is part of a conservation project or is in a priority development zone. These factors are generally only relevant to commercial businesses. Even if your sail is a free-standing structure that won’t damage the building, heritage restrictions may still consider it as changing the appearance of the building.

Priority Development Zones are subject to different rules as part of their specialist state programs. Other protected zones, may have specific design requirements to assist in the preservation of nearby flora and fauna or protect properties along the foreshore or in high-risk bushfire and flood areas. 

Other Factors that Will Require Permission

  • Sail is Too Large – Depending on the size of your property and its zoning maximum roofed areas vary. There are thresholds so if you are under then no permission is required but if you are over then you will with a maximum size allowed too. The size includes height as well as area.
  • Location of Sail – This covers whether part of the sail will be on a public street or borders and covers part of a public street or space. Distances and allowances will vary but you will require permission in these circumstances.

If you are in any doubt then you should just contact your local council but also talking to your installer will advise you on what you have to do.