Driveway Crossovers
Don't Wait To Reach That Bridge Before Crossing It!
I talk a lot about finding sites that are both developable and profitable, because a strategy that works in one area might be a dud in another. It's the reason I developed my ‘Rapid Elimination Method’.

A standard ‘rookie’ mistake however, is to look at the size of the lot, look at the Council guidelines around lot sizes, do some maths and assume you will automatically be able to create that many new properties.

Reality is a little different, and it's often what's going on out the front of your property that's your biggest hurdle to developing a site.

So let's take a closer look at the humble driveway and surrounds…
Let's start with some definitions so we're all on the same page.

The crossover is the part of the driveway from the roadside kerb to the property boundary. The driveway continues on into your property from the boundary.

The footpath is the paved area pedestrians walk along, and the nature strip is basically anything else between your property boundary and the road - the kerb and gutter being on the roadside edge of the nature strip.

Got it? Good.

And a final point - anything between the property boundary and the kerb belongs to the Council, not you.
So if you're standing out the front of the house, check out the location of the crossover. Now, depending on your site plans, it may be possible to continue using the same crossover and that's a big tick. But what if you need to either move the crossover or have a second one to reach new lots at the back of the property?

Each crossover takes up a fair whack of space, and if you already have a narrow frontage, Council might not be happy about that for a whole bunch of reasons (which I'll get into later).

Another issue might be things that are already on the nature strip or road, or even just inside the boundary of your property. Here's a shortlist:

  • public utility services
  • street trees
  • water meters
  • traffic signs
  • parking meters
  • traffic islands
  • bus stop

I'm sure you can come up with more!
If any of these things are present, they could potentially stop you from developing the site.

For example, if there's a well-developed street tree that happens to be a protected species right where you need to put your second crossover - that's a big red flag. Or, it may not be possible to move a street sign because it would end up in a position that makes it ineffective or hard to see at the right time.

Give it some thought and you will begin to see that any of these items could be a problem, and that list certainly isn't complete.

Now, I'm not saying those problems can't be overcome, but I can tell you now that if you need to move a power pole to put in a second crossover, that's going to cost you a lot more than loose change, which could have a substantial impact on the feasibility of the project. So you need to factor that in. Don't even get me started on the cost and hassle of trying to move a bus stop! And that's only two items on the list. So knowing what's already there and how it's going to affect the development potential of the property is really important.
Another thing to look closely at is nearby trees. You might think that a big tree on the neighbouring property isn't your problem if you want to install a new crossover - but you'd be wrong. You're soon going to learn about a wonderful thing called a root ball...

Essentially, this is the distance the roots of your neighbour's tree are estimated to extend out from the trunk. And if your crossover needs to cross that space - uh oh. Council don't want you laying concrete or potentially even driving a vehicle there. Particularly if it's a protected tree!

Also check the gutter for kerb adapters. Essentially, these are little round pipes that feed stormwater from the nearest house out into the gutter, so it can disappear down the nearest stormwater drain. It may be possible to redirect these, but again, definitely no tick in that box if there's one where you want to put your crossover. And if the stormwater drain (often called a gully) is where you want to put your crossover - another red flag!

I could continue down that rabbit hole, but let's go back to the point I raised earlier about frontage.
One of the biggest problems with any new development is bins. That's right, the humble wheelie bin. Councils vary in how many bins a property has allocated to it, and they usually try and alternate when each bin is collected so you don't have to put out every single bin every single week.

When there's only one house on the property, chances are 2 or 3 bins can be lined up on the nature strip and everyone is happy. But you come along, and now there's three dwellings on the property, and each one of those has to put their 2 or 3 bins out the front on bin day. All of a sudden it's getting rather crowded, and Council isn't going to like that.

Add in the second crossover you need to reach the rear lots, a couple of obstructions, like a few trees, and you might just find Council saying no to your development. Alternatively, they might force you into a situation where rubbish has to be collected on site by a private contractor and their truck, which adds a whole new layer of pain to the logistics of the site around access, room for the truck to turn on site and more. The humble bin suddenly becomes a huge headache.

So while it might be tempting to focus only on the size of the lot and some basic maths when you're assessing if a site is developable, take the time to remember that the area outside your front boundary and the location of crossovers need to be part of the equation too. Otherwise you might end up with a site that isn't developable at all.

If you want to take a deep dive into this subject, you can go to YouTube and watch my Sunday Session video on the subject - Driveways and Crossovers
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