As Queensland's population grows, more residential development will be located close to major transport routes. To minimise the impacts of transport noise on dwelling occupants, the Queensland Government has streamlined the building application approval process for residential buildings constructed in designated transport noise corridors.
Designated transport noise corridors can be State-controlled roads, railways or major local government roads that have been designated and gazetted by the State or a local government under the Building Act 1975.
Building in transport noise corridors
Residential buildings approved after 1 September 2010 that are located in a designated transport
noise corridor need to comply with the Queensland Development Code Mandatory Part 4.4—'Buildings in a transport noise corridor' (QDC 4.4) (PDF, 123KB). Under the code, residential buildings need to
achieve certain levels of noise reduction for occupants. This can be achieved through incorporating appropriate building materials to the building’s
external envelope (e.g. windows, walls roof, floors and entry doors).
A free online mapping tool can be used to find out if a property is located in a designated transport noise corridor. The search tool provides a mapped image and a report about the transport noise corridor affecting a property. The mapping tool is contained within the SPP Interactive Mapping System (hosted by the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning).
Information about transport noise corridors may also be shown in local government planning schemes and may be included in notices on property titles for state designated transport noise corridors.
Logan City Council designated its transport noise corridors by Gazette Notice on 27 July 2012.
At present, the mapping tool can only search for properties affected by the State Government's and Logan City Council's designated transport noise corridors. It does not include noise-related requirements of other local governments that may be included in their planning schemes. Contact the relevant local government to check for any planning scheme requirements that may apply in the area.
The noise code
QDC 4.4 came into effect on 1 September 2010.
Previously, building applications for the construction of residential buildings on properties near State-controlled roads generally required an on-site noise assessment and a supplementary State government approval. This approval was often conditional on certain noise reduction measures, such as specific building materials, being included in the building’s design and construction. QDC 4.4 provides a more consistent building standard across the state and reduces the time and costs involved in gaining building approval. It also continues to minimise the effects of transport noise on the building occupant’s health and amenity from major transport corridors.
Implementing the noise code
New and pre-fabricated dwellings
The noise code applies to residential building development applications on properties located in transport noise corridors including houses, townhouses, units, hotels, and motels (class 1–4 buildings). The requirements apply to new and pre-fabricated dwellings. Building work must be carried out in accordance with the requirements of QDC 4.4 and building certifiers are responsible for monitoring and certifying that this work complies.
A single property can be partially within a transport noise category or lie across multiple noise categories. In these cases, the requirements depend on where the actual building is to be located on the property. If the building sits wholly within a single noise category, then that noise category's requirements will apply, even though other parts of the property may be in a higher or lower noise category. A building that sits across multiple noise category areas has to meet the requirements of the noise category that applies to each respective part of the building.
While there is a difference in the decibel (dBA) noise levels in the comparative noise category between road corridors and railway corridors, only the relevant noise category applies to the building for design and construction compliance (not the category's noise level).
Property owners and building designers have the choice to either adopt the code's acceptable solution for the relevant noise category from the mapping tool search result (which will be the deemed-to-satisfy assessment method to achieve the performance requirement), or to have an on-site noise assessment completed to identify an alternative solution for meeting the noise-reduction requirements. An on-site noise assessment can also be used to identify situations where a lower noise category might apply to the property and features, such as other buildings, noise barriers or topography, may affect the noise levels experienced.
Removing requirements to renovation of existing dwellings and relocatable homes
Since 17 August 2015, amendments were made to QDC 4.4 and apply as follows:
- Building approval received before 1 September 2010: Where an existing residential dwelling located within a designated transport noise corridor was approved before 1 September 2010 and a major renovation is proposed for that dwelling (alteration, addition or relocation), it does not need to comply with building measures under QDC 4.4. In these situations, the building owner can chose to voluntarily include noise mitigation measures under QDC 4.4.
- Building approval received after 1 September 2010: Where an existing residential dwelling located within a designated transport noise corridor was approved after 1 September 2010 and a major renovation is proposed for that dwelling (alteration, addition or relocation), then QDC 4.4 will apply to the area covered by the renovation. This is to ensure that there will be no lessening of the building standards to mitigate noise to the entire dwelling due to the renovation (as the existing dwelling had already complied with QDC 4.4).
- Relocatable homes: QDC 4.4 does not apply to an existing relocatable home (sometimes referred to as a ‘removal building’) where it is to be located within a designated transport noise corridor. A relocatable home is typically a traditional ‘Queenslander’ style home that has been already built and moved from one property to another. This change recognises that relocatable homes can be difficult and costly to retrofit with acoustic treatments.
- Other dwellings: QDC 4.4 will continue to apply to new residential dwellings, including pre-fabricated and modular homes yet to be built, as noise mitigation measures can be incorporated with their overall design and construction.
'Mandatory' and 'voluntary' areas search result
Revised modelling undertaken by the Department of Transport and Main Roads has resulted in a 72 per cent reduction in the State-controlled road network designated as transport noise corridors.
Since 17 June 2015, the State-controlled road network has been separated into two (2) areas, these being either a ‘mandatory’ area or a ‘voluntary’ area. The ‘voluntary’ area reflects the relatively lower risk to noise exposure that these roads pose to occupants. Where a property and building is located within the ‘voluntary’ area (wholly or partly), the building owner can choose to include the relevant noise category measures under QDC 4.4.
Where a property and building is located within the ‘mandatory’ area (wholly or partly), the building will need to comply with the relevant noise category measures under QDC 4.4.
The updated mapping of State-controlled roads has been incorporated into the transport noise corridor mapping system and is presented with the results generated for a property search.
Since 8 July 2015, the following railway lines have been designated as transport noise corridors:
- all South East Queensland network (excluding the Interstate line and the Richlands to Springfield line)
- the North Coast Line System (Nambour to Cairns)
- the Western System (Rosewood to Oakey), and
- the Mount Isa System (Stuart (near Townsville) to Mount Isa).
These railway lines have been incorporated into the transport noise corridor mapping system and are presented with the results generated for a property search. These railway corridors are all mandatory areas for compliance purposes.
As a result of these railway lines being designated as transport noise corridors, the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning have removed provisions regarding internal noise for residential buildings located in these rail corridors from the State Development Assessment Provisions. The State Government will cease to condition these development applications.
Instead, where a building development application is submitted for a property affected by the designated railway corridor, it will need to comply with QDC 4.4. This change provides a more efficient building application process for properties affected by a railway corridor, thereby saving time and costs for industry practitioners and property owners.
Helping property owners with compliance
Use the online mapping search tool to check if a property is located in a designated transport noise corridor and what noise category applies to the proposed building.