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ACT Fencing Laws

Pool barrier safety

As a pool owner, it is important to check your pool meets the current ACT standards for pool barriers and is as safe as possible for children. You can help keep our kids safe this summer by ensuring small children can’t easily access the pool.

What is a pool barrier?

A pool barrier is a structure designed to help restrict access to a pool or pool area. It can include traditional pool fencing, walls, boundary fencing and child resistant gates and doors.

Current standards

Safety standards for pool barriers are designed to help restrict the access of children under five years old to a swimming pool, spa pool or pool area. They will not prevent access in every situation. Therefore, while a vital safety measure, fencing alone should not be relied on to protect against drowning risks. Children should always be supervised closely in and around pools.

Adult supervision in combination with a pool barrier is the most effective method of preventing children drowning.

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) sets out the current standards for constructing new or altering existing residential swimming pools or spa pools. These standards apply to pools in the ACT and include the requirements for pool barriers.

In accordance with the BCA a barrier must be provided around a swimming or spa pool that has a depth of water more than 300mm and must:

  • be continuous for the full extent of the hazard
  • be of a strength and rigidity to withstand the foreseeable impact of people
  • restrict the access of young children to the pool and the immediate pool surrounds
  • have any gates and doors fitted with latching devices not readily operated by young children, and constructed to automatically close and latch.

These requirements apply to in-ground and above-ground pools, temporary or permanent including wading pools, splash pools, inflatable pools, demountable pools, concrete pools, portable pools, kids’ pools and spa pools.

A pool satisfies the BCA requirements if it has safety barriers installed in accordance with the Australian Standard AS 1926 (parts 1 and 2).

AS 1926 shows the location, dimensions and other requirements for pool barriers including pool fences and gates. It does not permit outdoor pool access via a door.

The BCA is available as part of the National Construction Code series which can be accessed online at the Australian Building Code Board website.

AS 1926 is available online at the SAI Global website and can be downloaded for a fee.

Exemptions from development and building approval may apply to swimming pool fences and barriers provided they comply with relevant provisions of Regulations. Fences and barriers are required under the Building Act 2004 to restrict access of young children to pool and immediate pool surrounds.

Exemptions from development approval

The development does not need development approval if it complies with relevant provisions of the Planning and Development Regulation 2008, Schedule 1. Below is a summary of the provisions. It is correct as of the date the web page was last updated - scroll to the bottom of the web page to find this - however the Regulation's Schedule may been updated since then. In summary, the development is exempt provided that:

  • it is not an open space boundary fence (see item below)
  • for a mesh fence in an industrial zone; it is not more than 2.7m above natural ground level
  • it is otherwise not more than 2.3m above natural ground level (the support posts can be 2.5m)
  • no part is between a front boundary and a building line for the block
  • no part diverts or concentrates the flow of surface water in a way that causes ponding or onto other land; and
  • it complies with relevant general exemption criteria.

See definitions to understand the terms in italics.

Exemptions from building approval

The development does not need building approval if it complies with relevant provisions of the Building (General) Regulation 2008, Schedule 1. Below is a summary of the provisions. It is correct as of the date the web page was last updated - scroll to the bottom of the web page to find this - however the Regulation's Schedule may have been updated since then. In summary, the development is exempt provided that it:

  • complies with the Building Code of Australia
  • is constructed in a proper and skilful way as described in the Building Act 2004 and Building (General ) Regulation 2008
  • is inspected and certified as compliant with the Building Act 2004 (other than pt 3) by a certifier under that Act.

No building approval, licence, or notice is required under the Building Act 2004, however design and construction standards apply and inspection and certification requirements apply.