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Exempt and complying development policy

The State Policy for exempt and complying development is contained within the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the State Policy).


Exempt development

Did you know that you can do some minor building works to your house, shop or business without a development application? This is called exempt development. This means that low impact works not requiring a full merit assessment by council can be done more quickly and with less cost. A few examples of development that can be exempt development are:

  • decks
  • garden sheds
  • carports
  • fences
  • repairing a window
  • painting a house


Provided the proposed works are low impact and meet all relevant development standards (identified in the State Policy) a planning or building approval may not be needed.


Complying development

Complying development is a combined planning and construction approval for straightforward development that can be determined through a fast-track assessment by a council or private certifier. Complying development applies to homes, businesses and industry and allows for a range of things like the construction of:

  • a new house
  • alterations and additions to a house
  • new industrial buildings
  • demolition of a building
  • changes to a business use


This means that routine works that comply with the relevant development standards in the State Policy can save homeowners and businesses time and money.


Approvals under the fast-track complying development pathway can be issued in as little as 20 days. Homeowners can save up to $15,000 when building a house under complying development, with savings up to $2,600 for renovations.


Current initiatives 

Container recycling equipment as exempt development and recycling facilities as complying development

We have finalised the amendment to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (State Policy).


The amendment allows low impact recycling equipment such as reverse vending machines for eligible bottles and cans, to be carried out as exempt development (without planning or building approval).


We consulted on the proposed changes and considered feedback from residents, community groups, councils and industry.


As a result of the submissions review, the State Policy has also been updated to allow some recycling facilities to be approved under the fast-track complying development pathway. These proposals can be approved by an accredited private or council certifier if they meet relevant development standards.


The amendments are supported by the EPA Design Guide. The EPA Design Guide provides design and operational guidance to ensure the location, design and siting of the recycling equipment and facilities is appropriate.


The amendment supports the NSW Government’s plans to reduce litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020. Under the Container Deposit Scheme, from 1 December 2017 anyone can return empty eligible bottles or cans to approved NSW collection points, such as a reverse vending machine for a 10-cent refund.


Review of complying development in greenfield areas

We're considering feedback received on the review of complying development in greenfield areas.


More information

Page last updated: 21/11/2017