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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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Amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) will allow a range of low impact works to be carried out as exempt development. These works need to meet criteria in this Codes SEPP in order to be carried out without council approval.


Demolition of bushfire affected buildings

  • People impacted by bushfires will be able to demolish buildings that have been substantially damaged by bushfire.
  • People will also be able to partially demolish buildings to make them safe.
  • If you carry out demolition work as exempt development, it must be carried out in accordance with AS 2601-2001, “The demolition of structures”. You are encouraged to engage an appropriately qualified tradesperson to ensure that any demolition work meets this standard.
  • A building constructed before 1987 may contain asbestos. Businesses are licensed to undertake asbestos removal. If the work is not undertaken by a licensed contractor, it should still be undertaken in a manner that minimises risks. Information on the removal and disposal of asbestos to landfill sites licensed to accept this type of waste is available from the NSW Environment Protection Authority website.
  • At this stage demolition of a heritage item or in a heritage conservation area will still require a development application to the relevant local council.

Example: Jason's garage, which is attached to his home, has been partially damaged by the bushfires. Jason can demolish as much as is necessary to make his home and garage safe.

Temporary repairs and non-structural permanent repairs

  • Temporary repairs and non-structural permanent repairs to damage caused by a state of emergency under the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989 can be carried out as exempt development.
    - Temporary repairs can be undertaken to structural parts of a building, but only so far as is necessary to make the building safe.
    - Permanent repairs can be undertaken to non-structural parts of a building or structures such as fences.
  • The repairs need to be carried out within two years of the State of Emergency being declared. In NSW, three separate State of Emergency declarations have been made in association with bushfires in recent months:
    - 11-18 November 2019
    - 19-26 December 2019
    - 3-10 January 2020
  • The repair work must:
    - Be carried out within two years of the declaration being made
    - Not change the configuration of the floor space of the building being repaired
    - Not increase the floor space of the building or structure being repaired
    - Be for the purposes of making the building or structure weatherproof and, if to a dwelling, suitable for habitation.
    - If the repairs are to a fence, gate or other barrier, the work undertaken is only that necessary to repair or replace the structure to the same size, in the same location and with similar materials as the damaged structure.

Example: A State of Emergency was declared on 3 January 2020. On 23 January 2020, Linda’s home was partially damaged by bushfire. Linda may rebuild a non-load bearing wall without council approval up until 3 January 2022 (two years from the date of when the State of Emergency was declared).

If Linda wishes to rebuild a load bearing wall, then a development approval or complying development certificate is required.

Linda’s fence is also partially destroyed in the bushfire. Linda can repair the fence to the extent that the repairs result in the same size fence in the same location and with similar materials to the original fence.

Temporary installation of a shipping container

  • People will be able to temporarily put a shipping container on private land affected by the fires for storage purposes, where a state of emergency has been declared, for up to two years. 
  • People will not be able to live in the shipping containers – they are for storage purposes only.
    - Bushfire affected properties in a residential zone or environmental zone can install one shipping container
    - Bushfire affected properties in a rural zone, business zone, industrial zone or special purpose zone can install two shipping containers. 
  • The shipping container will need to meet the following:
    - Have appropriate foundations and structural support to ensure it is safe and stable
    - Have a maximum height of 3m
    - Have a maximum length of 12.5m
    - Have a maximum width of 2.5m
    - Be at least 1.2m clear of any 150mm diameter sewer main or 2m clear of any 225mm (or greater) diameter sewer main
    - Not be installed over an easement
    - Not be installed over drainage pipes or any house drainage pipelines unless access to the inspection openings is maintained at all times.

Example: Carrie’s home was badly damaged in a bushfire. She can put a shipping container on her property for storage purposes for up to two years, provided the shipping container meets the relevant size and siting requirements. Alternatively, Carrie could put a shipping container on her neighbour’s property provided her neighbour has given consent.

Further information

For further information on works that can be carried out without council approval, please contact the Codes bushfire recovery advice line on 13 77 88 or

Page last updated: 29/04/2021