Do I need council permission to build a shade sail?

If you’re planning on getting a shade sail, it is important to consider the council approvals and planning permissions you’ll need. Your local council will have rules for development approvals in your area. Whether you need approval and what kind you need is dependant on the design, size and placement of your potential shade sail. If you don’t gain the appropriate permissions your council could demand you remove it, or it will cause trouble later on, particularly when it comes to selling your home.

In South Australia, the state Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure and your local council asses development and building requests in line with the South Australian Development Act 1993 and Development Regulations 2008 legislation. Generally, you don’t need development permission to build a shade sail on your residential property in and around Adelaide, but there are exceptions.

When you need planning permission

Heritage Sites 

If your building is a listed local or state heritage site, or part of a protected zone you must speak with your local council before building your shade sail. Even if your sail is a free-standing structure that won’t damage the building, it may still be considered as changing the appearance of the building. The City of Adelaide Council, for example, has Heritage Advisors who can consult with you about your potential shade sail.

The sail is too large

If your shade sail is going to cover more than 20m2 you will need to apply for development permission from your council. It’s important to note that this is not a measurement of the actual shade fabric’s area but rather the area of the space outlined by the posts and other fixing points attached to, for example, the roof or a wall. You will also need permission if any part of the sail will be over 3m tall. That is above the ground level or the floor level of whatever surface it’s constructed on, such as a deck. 

The sail is in front of your home

If any part of your shade sail will be in front of the building line on the side of the primary street, you will need to gain council permission. If your home is on a corner block, your primary street is usually the street named in your address. The building line is a straight line parallel to the street, drawn from the closest edge of your home, or another approved structure, such as a shed or garage that you gained planning permission for previously. Depending on how close your building is to the front boundary the potential size of your sail might be limited.

The sail will be water-proof

If the sail is going to be made of a non-permeable material, even just water-proof shade fabric, you’ll need planning permission. A water-proof sail acts as a roof so the council would consider your shade sail to be a free-standing residential outbuilding and would be treated like shed or carport.

Other considerations

Planning permission is not the only kind of council approval you might need. Your council might have different local requirements, so it’s always best to confirm with your council exactly what kind of approvals you need. For example, in the City of West Torrens if your sail meets the above requirements you don’t need to gain further council approval. However, in the City of Port Adelaide Enfield council area if your sail meets the above you still need to gain Building Consent to ensure the planned structure and fabric used meet Australian Building Codes such as those stipulating structural and fire safety requirements.

How we can help

Our local team can help you ensure that your new shade sail design will fit within your council’s guidelines and help you through the approval and certification process. Adelaide Shade Sails has extensive experience designing and installing a variety of custom shade sails in the area. Call us today to start planning your new shade sail with a local expert.