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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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The State Policy for exempt and complying development is contained within the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the State Policy).


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 low impact works not requiring a full merit assessment by council can be done more quickly and with less cost. A few examples of development that can be exempt development are:

  • decks
  • garden sheds
  • carports
  • fences
  • repairing a window
  • painting a house

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


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 and allows for a range of things like the construction of:

  • a new house
  • alterations and additions to a house
  • new industrial buildings
  • demolition of a building
  • changes to a business use

This means that 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. Homeowners can save up to $15,000 when building a house under complying development, with savings up to $2,600 for renovations.


What's happening now?

Using Commonwealth HomeBuilder grants for exempt and complying development

The Commonwealth Government has announced HomeBuilder, a new time-limited grant program to help the residential construction market bounce back from the COVID-19 crisis.


Eligible owner-occupiers (including first home buyers) will receive a grant of $25,000 to help them build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home where the contract is signed between 4 June 2020 and 31 December 2020. Construction must commence within three months of the contract date.


The eligibility requirements and further information on the HomeBuilder grants can be found on the Commonwealth Government’s HomeBuilder webpage.


The types of development you may be able to undertake include:

  • a new house on vacant land, such as a new house and land package
  • internal renovations, such as new bathrooms or kitchens
  • external renovation works, such as replacing the roof or restumping a house
  • extensions to an existing house
  • demolition of an existing building to be replaced with a new house.


You can find out more about complying development on the NSW Planning Portal.


New eModule: learn more about exempt and complying development

The Department’s new eModule is a short online course which provides useful information on exempt development (no planning or building approval required) and complying development (a fast track approval).


Participants can put their learning into practice by answering 10 questions to obtain a Certificate of Completion.


The Module is designed for:

  • Council customer service staff, planners and building surveyors.
  • Homeowners and businesses wanting to learn more about exempt and complying development.
  • Certifiers wishing to take a refresher course.
  • Anyone wanting to explore private certification as a career option.


Access the module


Please note: that personal information collected for the purpose of this module will be collected, stored and used in accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 and the Department’s Privacy Statement.


Disclaimer: the information in this Module is intended to be general information only and does not constitute professional advice and should not be relied upon as such. No liability is accepted for reliance on any information that is provided. Recipients should seek independent professional advice and refer to the relevant legislation before taking action or relying on any such matter contained in this Module.


What's happened so far?

Container recycling equipment as exempt development and recycling facilities as complying development

We have finalised the amendment to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (State Policy).


The amendment allows low impact recycling equipment such as reverse vending machines for eligible bottles and cans, to be carried out as exempt development (without planning or building approval).


We consulted on the proposed changes and considered feedback from residents, community groups, councils and industry.


As a result of the submissions review, the State Policy has also been updated to allow some recycling facilities to be approved under the fast-track complying development pathway. These proposals can be approved by an accredited private or council certifier if they meet relevant development standards.


The amendments are supported by a Practice Note (PDF, 205 KB) Container Recycling Equipment in Car Parks - Exempt Development. The Practice Note provides further guidance for applicants and councils on container recycling equipment as exempt development in car parks.


The amendments are supported by the EPA Design Guide. The EPA Design Guide provides design and operational guidance to ensure the location, design and siting of the recycling equipment and facilities is appropriate.


The amendment supports the NSW Government’s plans to reduce litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020. Under the Container Deposit Scheme, from 1 December 2017 anyone can return empty eligible bottles or cans to approved NSW collection points, such as a reverse vending machine for a 10 cent refund. 


More information


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Refining the planning system

On Friday 16 June 2017 we released the new simplified Housing Code and other minor changes to the State Policy for exempt and complying development.

See more about the new simplified Housing Code