Obtaining an approval for a maritime structure can be tricky. Have you ever considered who owns the land below the highwater mark and do you know what type of application you require? Here are the top 4 pitfalls you’ll need to consider.
Pitfall #1 – Not knowing who owns the land below the highwater mark
The most common pitfall is failing to establish who owns the property below the highwater mark. Property owners often wrongly assume that because they own the land adjacent to the water, that their ownership continues into the water.
But this is not the case at all – the land and the seabed below the highwater mark is usually owned by someone else eg the State government or Council. It is imperative that the correct owner is identified, and that their written consent to the application is provided.
Pitfall #2 – Failing to recognise referral ‘triggers’
The majority of applications have some kind of referral trigger. This means that there is an aspect of the application which triggers a referral to another authority for their input. The most common triggers or referrals are for maritime or navigational safety, for fish habitat areas, marine parks or mangrove vegetation disturbance. In addition, some local Councils may have extra requirements that are unique to their particular area.
Pitfall #3 – Inadequate Plans
One of the biggest pitfalls is when the plans do not reflect the various requirements of Council or the State Government departments. Plans should be to scale and include dimensions and show all existing elements such as existing revetment walls, neighbouring pontoons, water-side vegetation and so on. Keep in mind the peculiarities of certain areas: for example, in the Brisbane and Noosa area, there is a restriction on the size of the pontoon. In many parts of New South Wales, the preference is for wooden structures rather than aluminium.
The plans for the maritime structure need to be designed and certified by a structural engineer. The engineering plans will need to detail the pylons, the ramp, pontoon or gangplank, bracing and construction methods. These details will demonstrate compliance with Australian Standards and that the structure will be able to withstand the local conditions.
Pitfall #4 – Wrong application – Wrong Assessment Manager
Determining the type of application is also an important consideration. In Queensland, generally speaking, most marine structures require an operational works application, although some may only require a building approval. However, some maritime structures may also require a town planning approval (a new marina for example).
In other states, a development application to the local Council is usually required, followed by a construction certificate (building approval).
Once the type of application is known, the application needs to be lodged with the correct Assessment Manager. In most cases, the Assessment Manager is council, but there are some situations where the application needs to be lodged with the State government (ie works within boat harbours or public boat ramps etc).
In some instances, structures may meet the criteria in an Accepted Development Code and not require the full approvals usually necessary for similar development. Obviously, specific criteria applies, but this can result in savings with application fees and timeframes.