The NSW planning system has a risk based approach to development. The type of consent or approval you require, if any, depends upon the scale and potential impacts of your development (such as on traffic, noise, privacy and solar access) on adjoining properties. There are three assessment pathways that may apply to small residential development: exempt development; complying development; and development that requires consent from a consent authority (typically a council).
Level of approval
Approval by issue of complying development certificate by certifier
Minimal environmental/amenity impact
Predictable environmental/amenity impacts
Could be major environmental/amenity impact
Level of assessment
Must comply with pre-set standards
Must comply with pre-set standards and conditions
Exempt development is minor development that will have minimal impact on the site and surrounding neighbours or locality. It does not require any consent or approval, if it meets standards set in either State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) or your council’s local environmental plan (LEP). Examples of exempt development are:
- small fences
- satellite dishes
- small decks.
Complying development is a fast track and cost-effective approval process for routine development, including one and two storey homes, alterations and additions and outbuildings. It can be used for development that meets specified predetermined development standards listed in the Codes SEPP or your council’s LEP. Obtaining a complying development certificate is a potential alternative to obtaining development consent.
Complying development certificates can be granted by council or an accredited certifier and they can advise further what standards would apply to your development. Further information can also be found on the Planning Portal.
A DA is a formal application for development that requires consent under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act). It is usually made to your local council and consists of standard application forms, supporting technical reports and plans.
The focus of this guide is the DA process.