As cities expand and issues related to densification come into sharper focus, the concept of Floor Space Ratio (FSR) has become more important. It influences both planning and zoning regulations, playing a crucial role in development approvals. But what exactly is FSR? Let’s break down Floor Space Ratio and how you go about figuring it out for your property.

What is Floor Space Ratio (FSR)?

Floor Space Ratio, or FSR, is a planning tool councils and planning authorities have adopted to manage the size, bulk, and scale of the built environment. It is a measurement that shows the relationship between the gross floor area of a building or house and the total land area of the site.

For instance, if local planning regulations specify an FSR of 0.5:1 for a 1000 m2 site, the permitted floor area of the building or house would be 500 m2. However, due to the calculation method, the actual size of the building or house won’t necessarily be 500 m2.

Why is FSR Important?

The role of FSR in planning and development is not a minor one. FSR is used to manage density and determine the scale of any new developments. It also ensures new developments are compatible with the character of the existing neighbourhood. Notably, NSW has tightly integrated FSR into their State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) and Local Environmental Plans (LEPs).

You will use the FSR throughout your development project. From conducting your feasibility study and optimising the development to meet local planning requirements, to monitoring during the construction phase to ensure any modifications don’t negatively impact the FSR.

How to Calculate FSR

Now that you have a better understanding of what FSR is, it’s time to look at how you go about calculating it. The actual calculation is straightforward, but it is the inclusion and exclusion of areas of the property that complicates things.

1. Firstly, determine the gross floor area of the building(s): This includes all areas inside the building, measured from the internal face of external walls. However, there are areas that may be excluded from the measurement. These include:

  • Car parks and access lobbies.
  • Plant rooms and lift shafts.
  • Common vertical circulation areas, such as lifts and stairs.
  • Balconies and terraces unless they are enclosed by walls more than 1.4m high.
  • Areas used for the storage or display of goods in a shop or commercial space.
  • Non-habitable areas like storerooms and utility rooms.
  • Areas (including access) used to load and offload goods.
  • Certain other areas as stipulated by your local council.

The specifics of what’s excluded can vary—for instance, stairs in individual townhouses. You should check both the State’s planning system and that of the local council to ensure you are calculating the floor area correctly.

2. Secondly, identify the total site area: This refers to the entire land area of the property, which is typically listed on your property deed or available from a council property report.

3. Finally, divide the gross floor area by the total site area: This will give you the FSR.

For instance, if your property has a total floor area of 500 square metres (after excluding the non-countable areas) and is situated on a 1000 square metre plot, your FSR would stand at 0.5 (500 ÷ 1000).

This nuanced approach to FSR calculation provides a more accurate measure, assisting you in planning your development project in line with local regulations.

Navigating FSR Regulations

FSR isn’t merely about numbers and ratios; it’s a key element shaping the development landscape across Australia. With a solid understanding of how to calculate FSR, you can make informed decisions that optimise your property’s potential while adhering to local planning controls. The Archistar property development platform aggregates planning rules from over 25,000 sources, streamlining your compliance with FSR requirements across Australia. Register for a free account and gain immediate access to critical information for thousands of sites. Premium tools are also available through our various paid tiers.