NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Exempt and complying development policy

Standards for development compliance and a fast-track approval process.

The State Policy for exempt and complying development is contained within the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP).

Exempt 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 renovations and low impact works not requiring a full merit assessment by council can be done faster and quicker.

Provided the proposed works are low impact and meet all relevant development standards (identified in the Codes SEPP) a planning or building approval may not be needed.

For more information about exempt development, visit our Planning Portal.

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 private certifier. Complying development applies to homes, businesses and industry.

Routine works that comply with the relevant development standards in the State Policy can save homeowners and businesses time and money. Approvals under the fast-track complying development pathway can be issued in as little as 20 days.

For more detailed information about complying development, visit our Planning Portal.

View the Guide to Complying Development

What's happening now?

Housekeeping amendments made to the Codes SEPP

Updates and improvements were made to the Codes SEPP and associated policies in December 2022. It ensures the Codes SEPP is current, operates smoothly and is clear on its intended development outcomes.

The amendments respond to feedback from stakeholders including applicants, certifiers, councils, industry and the community.

For more details on the key changes, visit our Housekeeping amendments to the Codes SEPP webpage.

Outdoor dining

The streets across NSW can come alive thanks to faster and easier approvals for councils and businesses so we can eat and drink alfresco.

Following the successful dining trial, we have changed the planning rules to enable pubs and small bars across the state to implement outdoor dining as an exempt development permanently.

This means all pubs and small bars can apply to council to use the footpath and public spaces to serve diners alfresco under exempt development. These changes align small bars and pubs with planning rules for cafes and restaurants.

Temporary alfresco dining measures

We have also changed the rules for alfresco dining on public and private land – to include parks, registered clubs and open spaces. Hospitality providers can apply to setup alfresco dining as exempt development with landowner’s consent.

These temporary measures apply until 31 December 2023. The measures are part of the NSW Government’s response to support businesses and communities recover from the pandemic.

Business and industrial codes reforms

In February 2022, we changed the business and industrial parts of the Codes SEPP to allow businesses to:

  • quickly adapt their offerings to new market demands for things like entertainment facilities, indoor recreation facilities and creative industries
  • attract investment with new and larger building allowances
  • carry out site and parking upgrades to accommodate click and collect
  • stay open for longer in certain areas.

We also introduced a new Business Zone Design Guide to support the design of complying development for new buildings and additions located in some business zones.

For more details on the reforms, please visit our Building Business Back Better page.

neighbourhood centres tile 430x278

Find out how you can use exempt and complying development pathways for your neighbourhood centre.

A completed house in a suburban street in a complying development neighbourhood. Photo by: NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment / Salty Dingo

We continuously review the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) to ensure it is effectively reducing red tape, costs and delays for exempt and complying development.

A family walking in a complying development neighbourhood. Photo by: NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment / Salty Dingo

Planning rules for complying development including one and two storey homes, renovations and extensions.