Section 173 Agreements: instruments setting out planning and development requirements with your Council

Section 173 Agreements are pivotal instruments in land-use planning and development, playing a crucial role in aligning private property interests with broader community and environmental goals. Here’s an introduction and overview of Section 173 Agreements, covering their purpose, key elements, process of initiation, common provisions, and compliance mechanisms.

Purpose of Section 173 Agreements

Section 173 Agreements are legally binding contracts between landowners and local councils or authorities. They serve several primary purposes:

  1. Regulating Land Use: Imposing specific conditions and restrictions on land use to ensure compliance with planning schemes or environmental objectives.
  2. Environmental Conservation: Addressing concerns such as biodiversity protection, natural resource conservation, and sustainable development practices.
  3. Infrastructure Development: Setting requirements for infrastructure like roads, utilities, and waste management to support community growth.
  4. Heritage Preservation: Safeguarding heritage sites and structures through outlined restrictions on modifications.

Key Elements of Section 173 Agreements

A Section 173 Agreement typically includes:

  • Parties Involved: Identifying the landowner(s) and the local council or authority.
  • Subject Matter: Detailing the specific obligations and restrictions, covering aspects like land use, conservation, infrastructure, and heritage.
  • Terms and Conditions: Outlining the agreed-upon requirements, such as building heights, environmental protections, or heritage preservation guidelines.
  • Duration and Termination: Specifying the validity period of the agreement and conditions under which it can be modified or terminated.
  • Enforcement Mechanisms: Describing penalties, remedial actions, or legal avenues in case of non-compliance.
  • Registration and Notice Requirements: Ensuring the agreement is registered with the relevant land titles office and that future landowners are notified of its existence.

Process of Entering into a Section 173 Agreement

The process involves several steps:

  1. Initial Discussions and Proposal: Landowner and council initiate discussions on proposed conditions.
  2. Formal Application: Landowner submits an application expressing intent to enter into an agreement.
  3. Negotiation and Drafting: Parties negotiate terms, covering scope, obligations, and timelines.
  4. Public Consultation (if required): In cases affecting the community or environment, public input may be sought.
  5. Legal Review and Finalization: Legal review ensures compliance and accuracy in reflecting negotiated terms.
  6. Execution and Registration: Once agreed upon, the agreement is signed, executed, and registered.

Common Provisions in Section 173 Agreements

Typical clauses include:

  • Land Use Restrictions: Limitations on property use and development.
  • Environmental Measures: Requirements for conservation and sustainable practices.
  • Infrastructure Requirements: Needs for supporting community infrastructure.
  • Heritage Protection: Guidelines for preserving historical or cultural sites.
  • Compliance and Enforcement: Mechanisms to ensure adherence to agreed terms.
  • Duration and Termination: Conditions for modifying or ending the agreement.

Compliance and Enforcement Mechanisms

These ensure adherence to the agreement:

  • Regular Monitoring: Periodic checks to verify compliance.
  • Penalties and Remedial Actions: Consequences for non-compliance, such as fines or corrective measures.
  • Dispute Resolution: Procedures to resolve disagreements regarding compliance.
  • Legal Enforcement: Seeking court orders or injunctions if necessary.
  • Revocation or Modification: Altering or terminating the agreement due to persistent non-compliance.


Understanding Section 173 Agreements is crucial for stakeholders involved in land development. These agreements provide a structured framework for balancing private property rights with community and environmental objectives. By fostering compliance and responsible development practices, Section 173 Agreements contribute to sustainable urban planning and development. Successful implementation relies on collaborative negotiation, transparent communication, and effective enforcement mechanisms to uphold agreed-upon terms for the benefit of communities and the environment.

Contact Kennedy Guy

We have solicitors who are able to assist with your Section 173 Agreement queries and negotiations.  Please contact us if you would like to know more via our ‘Enquire now’ button in the top right-hand corner or via (03) 9311 8511.