NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Business enabling works

What type of works can I carry out without council approval?

The planning system provides options which may assist businesses to continue to operate where their premises have been impacted by natural disasters.

A range of structures, buildings and other types of development to support temporary business arrangements can be carried out as ‘exempt development’ provided certain standards are met.

Exempt development cannot be undertaken on some land, for example, in relation to items listed on the State Heritage Register.

Examples of development that can be carried out without approval are listed below along with links to the development standards that apply:

Temporary premises for bushfire affected businesses

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 allows bushfire affected businesses to operate temporarily out of a shipping container and/or a portable office for up to two years. This can be done without council approval, while they plan and rebuild their permanent premises.

The provision will only allow existing approved businesses in business, industrial and RU5 Rural Village zones to continue to operate. The use must be a previously approved commercial or industrial use.

The maximum number of shipping containers or portable offices for business and/or storage purposes is two. Other development under existing exempt provisions can also be carried out – such as air conditioning units, access ramps and car ports.

The development must be carried out within 2 years of a State of Emergency being declared.

The Codes SEPP provides a full list of relevant development standards and specifications for the installation of temporary buildings for existing commercial and industrial purposes.

Complying development provisions that enable temporary business uses

Some rebuilding works, and associated business development can be carried out as complying development where certain development standards are satisfied.

Examples of development that can be carried out under with a CDC are listed below with links to the development standards that apply:

There are additional requirements for complying development on bushfire prone land and complying development cannot be undertaken in areas of Bushfire Attack Level 40 (BAL-40) or the Flame Zone. See more about development in bushfire prone land on the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Temporary Use Provisions under the LEP

Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) allow councils to grant consent to development on land in any zone for a temporary period. Owners can apply for consent to use land for a specific purpose for a certain number of days in any 12 month period.

Contact your local council for further information.

What type of business activities can I carry out on council or community owned land?

Business owners can also apply to temporarily use council or community owned land to operate their business as an activity under the Local Government Act 1993. Councils are required have a Local Approvals Policy which outlines which activities need approval, and which don’t.

Activities that you can apply to operate on council or community owned land include:

  • Mobile food and drink premises
  • Outdoor dining
  • Display of goods and/or merchandise

Refer to your council’s Local Approvals Policy to understand the controls and advice for activity approvals under the Local Government Act 1993.

Page last updated: 08/11/2022