There are three possible outcomes for a DA:
Development consent - granted, with conditions
DA refusal - with reasons
Deferred commencement consent - a consent not operating until one or more important matters are resolved. This is not a common outcome.
Why conditions are important
Your development consent is a legal document and is extremely important – you must build according to the conditions to avoid possible penalties or having to take costly rectification measures. As owner, you should carefully read and discuss these conditions with your certification and building team members, as the conditions may modify the proposal you submitted.
Some conditions are mandatory and must be applied on all development consents e.g. your house must meet the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
Who makes the decision on your DA?
For small housing development most decisions will be made at staff-level e.g. the assessment officer, senior officer, the Manager/Director of Development Assessment, or the General Manager.
The significance of the conditions of your consent
Conditions of consent can modify your plans (e.g. reducing height, deleting elements, adding a privacy screen, requiring a retaining wall). These changes may increase the cost of your construction. Getting it right at the start will help minimise unexpected and unplanned costs because of conditions imposed.
Conditions also require you and your team to take steps prior to or at key stages e.g. prior to the issue of a Construction Certificate, prior to/during construction and prior to the issue of an Occupation Certificate. Some standard conditions to bring to your attention include:
- Erection of signs on-site with details about your Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) and principal contractor (see Stage 5).
- Ensure that operations on the site do not adversely affect the neighbourhood e.g. hours of work, waste management and controlling water run-off and erosion.
- Organise any bonds to be paid e.g. to protect the footpath.
- In some cases you will need to pay development contributions – which goes towards local infrastructure.
How long does my development consent last?
The consent lasts for five years unless another period is specified by council or physical commencement has occurred in which case it does not lapse.
What can I do if I don’t like council’s decision?
If your DA is refused or granted with unacceptable conditions you have three options all of which will require some time and cost:
- Request a Review of Determination by your council (with amended plans, if you wish). A fee applies and you have six months from the date of the decision for this request to be lodged and also determined. You need to allow sufficient time for this.
- Commence an appeal to the Land and Environment Court. You have six months to lodge an appeal. The court hears from you or your representative, council, relevant experts and potentially the community and determines whether the DA should be approved and what conditions should apply to it. The appeal process can be time consuming and costly, particularly if a matter is not resolved through mediation before going to a hearing.
- Modify and relodge your DA.
Modifications and reviews
If you wish to make changes to your approved plans (or the conditions), you can submit an application for a Modification of Consent (under section 4.55 of the EP&A Act). This may be needed if you change your mind on particular aspects of the development.
The development you seek to modify must remain substantially the same as the development the original consent was granted for. If the application varies too much from the original consent a new DA must be lodged.
Modifications can be time consuming and cost additional fees. Getting the intended outcome right in the initial DA is much easier.