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NSW Department of Planning and Environment
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The Minister for Planning, Housing and Special Minister of State Anthony Roberts released the Development Assessment Best Practice Guide in early 2017.
By 2036, NSW will need to provide homes for another 2.1 million residents with local councils playing a vital role in delivering the required housing.
The development assessment process is a key part of the housing supply chain and impacts how efficiently new housing is delivered.
The guide draws on successful practices used by councils that assist in the timely determination of development applications. It was developed in close collaboration with a number of high growth local councils and draws on their proven processes and procedures. 
Since the guide was released, the Department has met with 37 councils across regional and metropolitan NSW to discuss their development assessment processes. Many councils site the guide as a useful resource and benchmarking tool. 

On 25 May 2018, the Minister for Planning released ‘Your guide to the Development Application process’ (Your Guide). Your Guide was designed to assist inexperienced and one-time applicants navigate their way through the development application (DA) process. Your guide emphasises the importance of having all information prepared up front to ensure an efficient process, saving time and money and helping councils approve applications faster.


View the Best Practice Guide

Five stages to faster, more efficient assessments

The guide promotes the following stages and principles to improve approval times.


5 stages to faster, more efficient assessments
1 Pre-lodgement
Communication and fact finding to improve quality of applications
Information is available on the NSW planning portal
Applicant talks to and may meet council
The process starts here
2 Lodgement
Efficient processing aids assessment
Applications can be lodged at council or soon on the NSW planning portal
Checked for completeness
‘Clearing house’ identifies issues and assessment stream
Allocated to an officer
3 Assessment
Days 6-15
Level of assessment reflects impacts of development
Applicant ‘contact date’ set
Site visit
Legislation checked
Referrals received
Directions meeting to resolve issues
Applicant updated
Days 15-30
Stop the clock:
- 14 days to withdraw incomplete applications or clarify minor issues
- Final assessment
Fast track:
- Fast track applications to determination4 Determination
Days 15-40
Decision made at right level by delegated officer, council or planning panel
- Peer review
Standard applications determined within 40 days
Fast track applications determined within 25 days
5 After decision
Contact and send package to client as soon as possible
Process finished


The guide includes a Development Assessment Best Practice process map. A consolidated version of the process map has been prepared as a ready resource for council officers.


View the Best Practice Guide

Page last updated: 29/04/2021