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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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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.


Exempt development allows for minor and low impact building works or home renovations to be carried out without needing planning or building approval.


Complying development is a fast-tracked approval for straightforward development that complies with the standards in the Codes SEPP. It includes new homes, home renovations, new industrial buildings and changes to shops and commercial buildings.


Row of suburban houses.


Amendments to the SEPP

An Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) for Housekeeping Amendments to the Codes SEPP was open for public comment in 2018.


We received feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, including applicants, certifiers, councils, industry and the community. Based on this feedback, the following amendments have been made to the SEPP and commenced on 13 December 2019:


  1. The operation of the Housing Code has been extended in greenfield areas until 6 July 2021, giving land owners three years to transition to the Greenfield Housing Code from the date of its commencement on 6 July 2018.

  2. Licensed premises across NSW can extend their trading hours on any New Year’s Eve until 2am the following day as exempt development, which is consistent with the Liquor Act 2007.

  3. Complying development under the Housing Code, the Inland Code, the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code, the Rural Housing Code or the Greenfield Housing Code cannot be undertaken on significantly contaminated land as defined in the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.

  4. Development standards have been introduced for a range of exempt and complying development clauses relating to awnings. Awnings are now required to comply with the relevant performance requirements of the Building Code of Australia and must be structurally sound when development is proposed to or under an existing awning, when development is proposed for the construction or installation of a new awning, or in certain situations where the proposed development is to an existing building with an attached awning.

  5. A new development standard has been introduced for cabanas carried out as exempt development, which specifies they cannot be connected to a water supply or sewerage services. This is to ensure cabanas are not used as a studio or secondary dwelling.

  6. Street libraries can now be carried out as exempt development subject to development standards. These standards include maximum height and footprint, and prevent them being erected on a road reserve, including a footpath and nature strip.

  7. The construction or installation of an external stairway can now be undertaken as exempt development, subject to development standards. These standards include a maximum height, minimum distance from lot boundaries and construction to be in accordance with Australian Standard 1657:2018, Fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders – Design, construction and installation.

  8. A new development standard for internal alterations to existing residential accommodation such as apartment buildings and boarding houses under complying development has been introduced. The standard specifies that the alteration must not result in a change in the number of bedrooms in the building.

  9. Minor changes have been made to rectify errors and update diagrams across the Codes SEPP, including changes to the Greenfield Housing Code and the Inland Code. 


Other proposed amendments that were included in the EIE are not proceeding at this stage. Further consultation with councils, industry and the community is required in relation to these proposals.


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Page last updated: 16/12/2019