Applications for swimming pools, including portable inflatable pools that exceed 300mm in depth or have a water filtration system, require both planning and building approval.
Development approval is required for a new swimming pool, spa pool and associated safety fencing. Further information with respect to the requirements for development approval and the relevant authority can be found on the SA Planning Portal.
Some of the details that must be included with any application are the:
- proposed setbacks of the pool from the boundaries of the site;
- dimensions and location of the pool and swimming pool safety features (such as fencing and barriers); and
- location of the pump and other equipment;
Any approved safety fencing must be installed within two months of the completion of the construction of the pool or on or before the pool is filled with water, whichever occurs first.
Temporary fencing that meets specific criteria may be used in limited circumstances, such as only during the two-month period after the pool has been completed or during other periods when any safety fencing is being maintained or repaired.
A pool owner must notify Council immediately following the installation of the new swimming pool (including all swimming pool safety features) for an inspection to be carried out by Council.
Swimming pool and spa safety and legislation
Drowning is the biggest cause of accidental death in young children. Most drownings happen in private backyard swimming pools.
Swimming pool and spa pool owners are legally responsible for installing and maintaining swimming pool safety features, such as fences and barriers around their pool or spa so as to reduce the risk of accidental drowning. Whenever a young child is inside a pool area, constant supervision is essential.
Swimming and spa pool safety features
All swimming pools, including spa pools (not spa baths), must have a continuous safety barrier that must be maintained by the pool owner at all times. Hard covers on spas are not an acceptable safety barrier.
Fencing and barriers must be constructed in such a way so as to ensure that they restrict access to the pool and are an effective barrier to young children. Some of the important features of such fencing and barriers include the following:
- the fence or barrier must be permanent and be of a strength and rigidity that can withstand the foreseeable impact of people;
- young children must not be able to crawl through, climb under or climb over the fence or barrier by using foot and hand-holds (including features and objects such as steps, retaining walls or plants);
- the fence or barrier must be at least 1.2 metres high; and
- where any boundary fencing is used as part of the child-safety barrier, they must be at least 1.8 metres high measured on the inside (i.e. the side that faces the pool), and must include a 900 millimetres radius non-climbable zone which zone is measured from the top of and down the inside of the fence.
Gates to the pool area must:
- swing outward from the pool area (i.e. away from the pool area);
- be self-closing from any position without the application of any manual force;
- be fitted with a self-latching device, which will automatically operate on the closing of the gate and will prevent the gate from being re-opened without being manually released;
- is out of reach and cannot be opened by small children, and is at least 1.5 metres above ground level (unless the latch can be shielded in a way that complies with the relevant Australian Standard 1926.1 and 1926.2), and must never be propped open.
Filtration systems must incorporate safety measures to avoid entrapment of or injury, to a person.
The walls of an above-ground pool can be an effective and suitable safety barrier if they satisfy the requirements of the relevant Australian Standard 1926.1 and 1926.2, including the following:
- they are non-climbable and are at least 1.2 metres high; and
- a barrier is permanently fixed around any access ladders and around any designated access point(s) to the pool where a ladder is removable.
Legal obligations when selling a house with a pool or spa
Pools approved, constructed or installed before 1 July 1993
If a property owner is selling their property that contains a swimming pool or spa pool that was approved, constructed or built before 1 July 1993, they are responsible for making sure that certain safety requirements for swimming pool safety are met on or before the settlement associated with the transfer of the land. This will usually require fencing or barriers to be upgraded. These specific requirements are set out in the Ministerial Building Standard MBS 004. Any new owner of the property will then be required to ensure that the relevant safety features have been installed and thereafter are maintained.
If the property where a swimming pool or spa pool is located is not being sold, the pool can continue to comply with the provisions of the now-repealed Swimming Pools Safety Act 1972. That Act requires swimming pools to be enclosed in a specific way, including that the safety fencing is at least 1.2 metres high, is non-climbable and prohibits a child from passing beneath or through it, and that any associated gates or doors that provide access to the pool are self-closing.
Pools approved, constructed or installed on or after 1 July 1993
These pools must comply with the provisions of the Building Code as it applied at the time the application for the pool and/or pool fencing was made either under the now-repealed Development Act 1993 or the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016. In any case, a failure to install and thereafter maintain required safety features for a swimming or spa pool constitutes an offence under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.
Getting a pool inspected
Generally, all swimming pools and spa pools (whether newly constructed or existing) can be inspected at any time by authorised officers of a Council.
A property owner is not required under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 to have an existing swimming pool or spa pool inspected for compliance however authorised officers are permitted to enter and inspect any land where a pool is located and where there may be grounds to suspect that the required safety features are not in place or for any other reason permitted by that legislation. There is also no requirement to have an inspection when selling a property with an existing swimming pool or spa pool.
Should a property owner decide to have their pool inspected it is recommended that they engage an accredited professional building level 1, 2, or 3 to undertake the inspection as they have the appropriate qualifications, experience and professional indemnity insurance to perform this function.
Download the brochure Is your swimming pool kid safe? for general guidelines.
The Minister's Specification SA 76D provides the new requirements for upgrading prescribed swimming pools.
Visit the SA Government Website Page on Swimming Pool Safety for an overview of the most current and relevant legislation including downloadable resources and useful links.
Please note that the information above is intended as a guide only. Further clarification of these matters can be obtained from the Development Services by phone: (08) 8406 8222 or email Development Services.
Lodge a development application
If you wish to proceed to lodge a development application please go to SA Planning Portal.