The difference between a strata title and a land subdivision

19 June 2020

Land can be physically subdivided and each parcel owned by a party, which is typically what is meant when people refer to a “subdivision”. Alternatively, a building can be divided into multiple lots and this is commonly referred to as “strata titling” or a “strata title subdivision”. The word strata means “one of a number of portions or divisions”. So a single apartment is one portion of a high rise building and is nearly always on a strata title (unless one person owns the whole building).

In Queensland the Land TItle Act 1994 (the Act) provides for three types of subdivision being a standard, building or volumetric format plan. The formal definitions of each of these types from the Act is as follows:

48B Standard format plan

A standard format plan of survey defines land using a horizontal plane and references to marks on the ground.

Example of marks—

posts in the ground

48C Building format plan

  1. A building format plan of survey defines land using the structural elements of a building, including, for example, floors, walls and ceilings.

  2. For subsection (1)—

structural elements, of a building, includes projections of, and references to, structural elements of the building.

Example of projections as structural elements of a building—

Projections might be used to define a lot that includes a balcony, courtyard, roof garden or other area not bounded, or completely bounded, by a floor, walls and a ceiling.

48D Volumetric format plan

A volumetric format plan of survey defines land using 3 dimensionally located points to identify the position, shape and dimensions of each bounding surface.

A standard plan subdivision (also referred to a standard format plan) involves the subdivision of land. It typically doesn’t involve a Body Corporate under a Community Titles Scheme unless there is common property involved and often shared arrangements such as access are dealt with by easements. A standard format plan subdivision typically divides land only and not buildings. For this reason a development application is required. This subdivision type allows for vacant allotments to be subdivided and sold whereas strata title subdivision does not. This type of subdivision is used in the instance of “house and land” packages, where a larger parcel of land is divided up and sold as smaller lots for building a single dwelling. 

Strata titles are standard for larger buildings where ownership of the apartments is separate but the land and building itself are not. The ownership of the building and its common areas (e.g. hallways, lifts, driveways, entrances, amenities) are shared by all owners and managed through a Body Corporate set up under a Community Titles Scheme (CTS). This body is responsible for maintaining and repairing common property, having certain insurances, managing finances, and enforcing by-laws and a Community Management Statement (CMS). The body corporate is funded by taking fees from the owners who control the entity and have votes to make decisions about the property. 

A strata title subdivision can only be registered once a development (i.e the building) is complete. Strata titling is accepted (exempt) development under the Queensland Planning Act 2016 and doesn’t need a development application. It does however go through a plan sealing and registration process with both the local council and the State Titles Office. 

It is very important to know the difference between the subdivision types and to identify whether some or all of these apply to a particular property. Titling of land and buildings can be complicated and some developments may involve several types of subdivision. 

Standardisation of registered plans to Survey Plans (SP) only has resulted in it no longer being obvious to a lot of people, even experts in the property industry, as to what type of development or subdivision applies to a dwelling or lot. Previously strata titled development was on a Building Unit Plan (BUP); Group or Community Title Development was on a Group Title Plan (GTP); and freehold or Standard Format Plan development was on a Registered Plan (RP).

The costs for each individual subdivision will vary depending on the size of the land or building. Larger, multi-unit strata title subdivisions will be more expensive than a simple duplex or smaller townhouse development. Similarly, a land subdivision will cost more the larger the site is and the higher the number of lots to be created. 

If you are seeking specific subdivision advice please get in contact with our team. Consult Planning is experienced at assisting clients to subdivide. We offer free desktop assessments and there is no charge to call and speak to our Director about your subdivision plans. Get in touch via office@consultplanning.com.au or 1300 017 540.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to provide accurate information, Consult Planning does not guarantee that this blog article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. Requirements and standards frequently change so every individual proposal should be thoroughly investigated.

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