2Public space and private space

Design Outcome

Subdivision design carefully manages the difference between public space and private space so that ownership is clear at all times

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​People take more pride and responsibility for land that is their own. ​​

With successful design, this sense of ownership can extend to adjoining sites, the street, and open spaces. People respond to damage or invasion of property differently depending on whether they are on a site they own, share or which belongs to someone else.​​​

Better Design Practice

  • Lots should be designed to have an obvious public ‘front’ that faces the street or public space, and a private ‘back’ facing other ‘backs’. Other than corner lots, lots should enjoy three private edges.
  • Public fronts should not sit next to private backs unless there are major access issues or large spaces separating them (such as dense bush).
  • Subdivisions should be designed so that members of the public cannot access natural features and amenities that sit on private land.

Rules of Thumb

1. Design subdivisions from the outside in, treating the fronts and backs of lots within the same subdivision alike at the site’s boundaries.


2. Common private space, including any private roads or lanes, should be treated as public space for the purposes of applying the fronts and backs principle.


3. Dedicated rear lanes for higher density development sites should be thought of as a back space, but should be secure and free from general public access.


They should only be designed in conjunction with a development of that type.

4. Consider whether the target demographic of the subdivision will prefer privately owned space, common space or publicly owned space.