Townhouse Development

Real Life Example

Mackay QLD 4740

Kathy and Stuart Hardie

Address: Bridge Rd, West Mackay 4740

Lot size: 926sqm

Street Frontage: 30m

Local Zoning: Higher Density Residential

General Zoning: Urban

Council: Mackay Regional Council

Architects: Archizen Architects

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Mackay Queensland


464 Bridge Rd West Mackay
464 Bridge Rd West Mackay
Bridge St Mackay

Council Regulations and RP Data Plan



Property: The property is zoned higher density residential and council has indicated 200 m2 per dwelling.There is an older timber 3 bedroom dwelling on the site which is currently being rented by two doctors at $385pw.

Easements: The property has an easement down one side for council to gain access to a storm water drain. After Kathy spoke with the council engineer she received positive feedback and they mentioned that if an enginner can design the water drainage to allow storm water to still flow to the drain they couldn't see a problem with Kathy using the easement as access to the townhouse developement.

Views: Potential views from the proposed front townhouse top level only.

Position: Currently located on an artillery road and opposite the Mackay Base Hospital. The Mackay Base Hospital, is the only public hospital that services one of Australia's fastest-growing areas

Location: Mackay is well-known for it's sugar cane but the recent prosperity and population explosion in Mackay is hard to comprehend. Coalmining in this state employs more than 22,000 people, generating about $15 billion in exports and delivering $1 billion in royalties to the State Government. Thousands of miners live in the Mackay district and rely on the hospital.

Mackay Base Hospital Redevelopment Proposed Mackay Base Hospital
Existing Mackay Base Hospital
Artist Impression of Proposed Mackay Base Hospital Re-development


Infrastructure: The Australian Government will spend $44.6 million upgrading the Mackay Base Hospital.
The new state-of-the-art hospital will increase the number of beds from 163 to 318 as well as providing more operating theatres, a special dedicated Coronary Care Unit and a larger Intensive Care Unit. It will also provide new emergency and outpatients' departments, renal support services, day oncology and a dental services unit. Construction work on new facilities to enable the redevelopment of Mackay Base Hospital is expected to start in 2009.

A bypass bridge was also completed mid 2009 and once the old bridge is removed Bridge Street will become a dead end street with far less traffic.

Amenities: It is close to all amenities and also only a few minutes drive to the Canelands Shopping Centre and CBD.

Canelands Shopping Centre

Mackay CBD

Canelands Shopping Centre
Mackay CBD


Target Market: Doctors who need to be within 2 minutes from the hospital. The upgrade of the hospital will bring more employment into the area and these employees will be looking to both rent and purchase housing closeby.



Adrian used the requirements of the Local Authority Planning Codes and Policies to create the initial conceptual layouts and to maximise the potential profits of Kathy and Stuart's development site. Good design and planning was essential because the design can ultimately make or break the project so Adrian balanced the design features with the overall costs of the project to achieve the maximum number of housing units on the site and therefore significantly influence the profitability of Kathy and Stuart's development project.

Adrian has designed Kathy and Stuart's townhouse project so it can be built in stages which will allow for more options such as:

  • the ability to keep the existing weatherboard home which provides weekly income while building the first two townhouses at the back
  • the ability to receive three rental incomes until such time as funds allow for the remaining front two townhouses to be built
  • the ability to move their existing tenant into one of the new townhouses at the back and relocate the existing weatherboard home to their farm and then build the remaining front two townhouses
  • the ability to sell one or two of the back townhouses to help fund the construction of the front townhouses
  • and of course the ability to onsell the development site to an active developer with the development approval already in place and not proceed with the construction stage

Whats great about building in stages is that it allows Kathy and Stuart to build the remaining front two townhouses when they have the funds.  It may mean that they even rent the two back townhouses and the existing house (3 income streams) until they have the required funds to complete the entire project.


To View Kathy & Stuart's Townhouse Development Freehand Concept sketches click here...


When preparing freehand schematic concept sketches some of the factors that Adrian considers and marks out are:

  • an analysis of the site, including direction of north, the direction of prevailing winds, land slope direction, neighbouring buildings, any potential views, any potential noise sources, and any significant landscape features such as retaining walls, cliffs, foreshores, etc
  • Councils required setbacks from the boundaries, and between the proposed buildings if applicable
  • other required setbacks for bush-fire protection, etc
  • car parking and necessary manoeuvring
  • required open garden landscaped space
  • significant existing trees which are to be preserved, either because they are a attractive feature of the site (which may enhance sales) or a requirement of Council
  • existing site constraints, such as legal right of ways and service easements, including sewer mains and stormwater pipes

The remaining area of Kathy and Stuart's development site was the space available for the proposed 4 townhouse development project and the four individual outdoor courtyards that should make their development more saleable and/or rentable. Because it is generally not important to the initial feasibility of a development, the internal layout of the dwellings is not included in the concept drawings.

When Adrian explored the various sketch design options for the positioning of the dwellings, he also took into account:

  • the orientation: to situate the private outdoor courtyard spaces to take best advantage of the light and sun during daylight hours. (This is the northern side in the Southern Hemisphere);
  • Responsible Environmental Development (RED): to produce an energy-efficient design sensitive to the climate, and which has the effect of reducing energy usage and the planets resources, therefore reducing on-going energy costs.

The result are hand-drawn sketches which will invariably change and develop as it is refined in response to further input from both Council’s requirements and continuing market research. To get the maximum benefit out of a site a competent architect creates these initial concepts also known as schematic or preliminary sketches.  

Adrian prepared black and white 3D visualisations below to give Kathy and Stuart a better idea of what their Townhouse development will look like.


Archizen Architects

Hardie Development
Hardie Development
Hardie Development
Hardie Development
Hardie Development




We find that it’s very beneficial, after the preparation of the concept plan, to organize a preliminary meeting with the Planning Authority - usually the local Council. We do this to determine their attitude to the proposed development and to discuss, at this early stage, any issues they may have with the concept layout. Requesting this meeting has many additional advantages for us, including:

  • It indicates to Council that we are willing to work with them and listen to their (reasonable) requests. This creates a positive climate in which the development approval process can progress.
  • We ask for Council’s reasons for either approving or rejecting any nearby development projects similar to our proposal. We use this information to tailor the proposal to further increase the chances of approval.
  • We ask for an indication of any other extra information that Council may require to be included with the Development Permit Application. These could include expert reports from other professionals such as Traffic, Aborist and/or Acoustic. These can then be budgeted for in the feasibility.
  • We also get to see Council’s reaction if we try to ‘push the development envelope’ – in other words, propose a development beyond the restrictions of their planning codes. Generally this will only be possible if we can argue that there are good reasons for varying Council’s policies.

The disadvantage of this pre-lodgement meeting is that the advice and comments of the Planning Officer that we meet with is generally not binding on the Council. Although this is very frustrating we try to minimise the impact of this uncertainty in a couple of ways:

  • firstly, we request to meet with the Senior Planner covering the location of the site, as they in all likelihood, will be the person having the final decision on our Development Application – especially if our development proposal is considered to be controversial
  • we take notes during the meeting of the opinions and advice offered by the Planning Officer, and if we think it's appropriate we confirm the main points discussed and agreed in an email to the Officer

It's a good idea to form relationships with council representatives and ensure you discuss your project with the decision makers beforehand. These are the people whose opinions will ultimately count in the end.

Check back regularly for further updates!

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