Secondary dwelling review

Project update

Council has progressed the Secondary dwelling review and will be implementing a response to some of the initial findings. More information is provided below and Council can be contacted by email at or by telephone on (07) 3205 0555 or 1300 477 161.

Secondary dwelling review - initial findings

There have been changes to the Secondary dwelling definition set by the Queensland Government in the Planning Regulation 2017. Recent decisions in the Planning & Environment Court about Secondary dwellings have also informed the interpretation of the definition.

Many other Queensland local governments have taken steps to provide greater clarity about the requirements of the Secondary Dwelling definition.

To comply with the Secondary dwelling definition there must be a functional nexus (or clear relationship) between a ‘Dwelling house’ and a ‘Secondary dwelling’ and it should not be used separately, independently or otherwise function as a ‘Dual occupancy’.

Council recognises that there has been confusion and uncertainty associated with this to date.

To balance the need to correctly implement the Secondary dwelling definition whilst acknowledging existing living arrangements and lease agreements, there will be a managed transition as follows:

  • Secondary dwelling uses commencing after 26 February 2021 will be reviewed closely for compliance with the ‘Secondary dwelling’ definition.  Non-compliant development after this time may result in compliance action being taken under the Planning Act 2016.
  • Council reserves its right on ‘Secondary dwelling’ uses that have commenced on or before 26 February 2021 to investigate and undertake compliance action, on a case by case basis, where there is concern of adverse safety or neighbourhood amenity impacts.

Council has prepared a Secondary dwelling information sheet to provide guidance in relation to the Secondary dwelling definition and to assist in understanding the intended function of this development type. 

View the Secondary dwelling information sheet(PDF, 481KB)

Over the coming weeks, Council will be taking steps to provide further information through:  

  • responses to FAQs
  • direct communication with community, real estate and development industry stakeholders.

In addition to this, Council will also be taking steps to address identified design issues and amenity impacts that have arisen from Secondary dwelling development in the region. This will involve a review of current planning scheme requirements and consideration of alternative options. These options will be taken to Council for review in early 2021. A Housing Study will also be undertaken to better understand the current and long term housing needs of the region. This will be important to address housing choice, diversity and delivery of affordable housing solutions.

To find out more about the review, and for any new Secondary dwelling enquiries, you can contact Council officers by email at or by telephone on (07) 3205 0555 or 1300 477 161.


Secondary dwellings are provided for in the residential, township, rural and rural residential areas of the MBRC Planning Scheme.

Amendments to planning provisions for Secondary dwellings were made as part of Tailored Amendment No. 1 to the MBRC Planning Scheme, commencing on 29 January 2020. Through consultation on the Tailored Amendment No. 1, there were several public submissions relating to Secondary dwellings received.

The issues raised in these submissions included who should be able to occupy the Secondary dwelling, the size of the Secondary dwelling and built coverage of land accommodating this type of development, car parking and streetscape and design matters.

In response to the issues raised in public submissions, on 29 October 2019 Council resolved:

“That in response to the community feedback received during this amendment process, Council will undertake the following further bodies of work, noting the outcomes of this work may inform future amendments to the Planning Scheme:

a) a review of Secondary dwellings and the outcomes being achieved; and
b) a review of the Next Generation neighbourhood precinct and the outcomes being achieved.”

Note: A review of the Next Generation neighbourhood precinct also commenced as a separate project.


The purpose of the review is to:

  • analyse current development and design outcomes
  • understand the perceived issues and concerns of the present planning framework
  • determine whether the present planning framework is delivering Council’s desired design and built form outcomes
  • provide clarity on whether Secondary dwellings are able be rented to a household separate to the primary dwelling in light of recent changes to State legislation and court decisions.


The review has been undertaken in the following stages:

Stage 1

Information gathering

Stage 2

Define the issue

Stage 3

Explore options

Stage 4

Findings and recommendations

The review has used the extensive feedback received from the community and industry in 2019 as part of Tailored Amendment No. 1 to the MBRC Planning Scheme.

Initial findings and recommendations of the review were presented back to Council in late 2020.