NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Repair and response works

We’ve made changes to help people recover and rebuild after a natural disaster. This includes a range of low impact works to be carried out without the need for development approval.

The changes have been made to exempt development rules under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP). These works need to meet criteria in this Codes SEPP to be carried out without council approval.

Demolition of buildings affected by natural disasters

  • People will be able to demolish buildings that have been substantially damaged by a natural disaster.
  • 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.
  • Demolition of a heritage item or in a heritage conservation area requires a development application to the relevant local council.

Example: Jason's garage, which is attached to his home, has been partially damaged by a flood. 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 natural disaster or 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 declaration of a natural disaster or state of emergency.
  • The repair work must:
    • 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 natural disaster was declared on 22 February 2022. On 26 February 2022, part of Linda’s home was flood damaged. Linda may rebuild a non-load bearing wall without council approval up until 22 February 2024 (two years from the date of when the natural disaster was declared).

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

Linda’s fence was also partially destroyed in the flood. 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 can temporarily put a shipping container on private land affected by a natural disaster or a state of emergency under the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989 - for storage purposes, for up to two years, provided it is not on a flood control lot.
  • People will not be able to live in the shipping containers – they are for storage purposes only:
    • affected properties in a residential zone or environmental zone can install one shipping container
    • affected properties in a rural zone, business zone, industrial zone or special purpose zone can install two shipping containers.
  • The shipping container must be located behind the front building line in residential zones.
  • 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 codes@planning.nsw.gov.au

Page last updated: 08/11/2022