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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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What is 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 an accredited certifier. Complying development applies to homes, businesses and industry and allows for a range of things like the construction of a new dwelling house, alterations and additions to a house, new industrial buildings, demolition of a building, and changes to a business use.


How do I get a fast–track approval?

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.


Watch the video below about building made easy with complying development.

How to use complying 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.


Complying development generally includes larger building works than exempt development. For this reason 'sign off' by a building professional (known as a certifier) is needed. Complying development is also subject to conditions of approval to protect surrounding uses during the construction period and the life of the complying development.


In 2015 – 16, the State Policy for exempt and complying development enabled 33 per cent of all development approvals in NSW to be fast-tracked, saving time and money for families and business owners.


Fast-tracked complying development approvals can be issued in as little as 20 days. This compares with the average determination time for a development application of 70 days. More than $6.39 billion of development was delivered by complying development in 2015 – 2016.


Relevant legislation

The majority of exempt and complying development types and their development standards are found in the State Policy for exempt and complying development.


You can view the State Policy on the NSW Legislation website:


The NSW Planning Portal

The Department provides free information, advice and tools for everything from adding a deck or garage to building a new home.


You can use the online planning tools on the NSW Planning Portal to prepare, lodge and track development applications for straightforward residential developments known as ‘complying development’ or check the requirements for small home improvement projects known as 'exempt development' that do not require a planning or building approval.


For more information visit the NSW Planning Portal or contact via email.


The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code

The new Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code will allow one and two storey dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces to be carried out under a fast-track complying development approval.


The new Code will provide more housing choice to meet different household needs, and improve housing affordability. It forms part of the NSW Government’s commitment to facilitate faster housing approvals and deliver a diverse range of housing options to support NSW’s changing demographics.


The new Code includes clear and easy to understand planning rules, with explanatory diagrams. Low rise medium density housing as complying development is only allowed where medium density development is already permitted under a council’s local environmental plan.


Existing deferrals from the commencement of the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code in 46 council areas will finish on 1 July 2020 and from that date the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code will be operational across NSW.


Other development assessment systems

There are nine different planning approval pathways in NSW including complying development. 


More information

Page last updated: 05/02/2021