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Your guide to the DA process

Common terms

Accredited Certifier means the holder of a certificate of accreditation as an accredited certifier under the Building Professionals Act 2005. Also referred to as a ‘Certifying Authority’.

Appeal is the right of a person to challenge a decision in court, for example, a decision by a council to refuse a DA, or impose a particular condition of consent.

Building Code of Australia (BCA) means the document of that name published on behalf of the Australian Building Codes Board in October 1996, together with:

  1. Such amendments made by the Board, and
  2. Such variations approved by the Board in relation to NSW, as are prescribed by the regulations.

Building work means any physical activity involved in the erection of a building.

Complying Development is routine development that an EPI provides can be approved by meeting specified predetermined development standards.

Consent Authority, in relation to a DA (or an application for a Complying Development Certificate), means:

  1. The council having the function to determine the application, or
  2. If a provision of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), the regulations or an EPI specifies a Minister, the Greater Sydney Commission, the Planning Assessment Commission, a joint regional planning panel, local planning panel, or public authority (other than a council) as having the function to determine the application – that Minister or the Greater Sydney Commission, Planning Assessment Commission, panel or authority, as the case requires.

Construction Certificate is a certificate to the effect that work completed in accordance with specified plans and specifications will comply with the requirements of the Act and Regulations.

Development application (DA) means an application for consent under Part 4 of the EP&A Act to carry out development. It is usually made to the local council. It consists of standard forms, detailed plan drawings and a number of detailed documents (called ‘submission requirements’).

Development consent means consent under Part 4 of the EP&A Act to carry out development and includes, unless expressly excluded, a Complying Development Certificate.

Development Control Plan (DCP) is a detailed guideline that illustrates the controls that apply to a particular type of development or in a particular area and is made under the EP&A Act.

Dwelling means a room or suite of rooms occupied or used, or constructed or adapted so as to be capable of being occupied or used as a separate domicile.

Environmental Planning Instruments (EPIs) means an LEP or SEPP made under Part 3 of the EP&A Act. They contain the controls that apply in relation to the development of an area/site.

Exempt Development is classified in an EPI as development that may be carried out without the need for development consent because it will have minimal environmental impact, so long as any requirements of the EPI are satisfied.

Local Environmental Plan (LEP) is a form of EPI made under the EP&A Act. It is the principal legal document for controlling development at the council level. LEPs contain zoning provisions that establish permissibility of uses and specify standards that regulate development. They are prepared by councils and approved by the Minister or, in the Greater Sydney Region, the Greater Sydney Commission or their delegates.

Occupation Certificate, issued by the Principal Certifying Authority, is a certificate that authorises the occupation and use of a new building, or a change of building use for an existing building. It is a post-construction check on whether necessary approvals and certificates are in place for the development and the building is suitable for occupation or use in accordance with its BCA classification.

Principal development standards are those standards that are so important that they are included in the LEP e.g. building height, floor space ratio.

Public Domain refers to public land adjoining or in the vicinity of a site. For instance, streets, footpaths and public reserves.

Secondary dwelling means a self-contained dwelling that:

  1. Is established in conjunction with another dwelling (the principal dwelling), and
  2. Is on the same lot of land as the principal dwelling, and
  3. Is located within, or is attached to, or is separate from, the principal dwelling.

Site Analysis is a bird’s eye view plan showing where the sun is, and identifying trees and other key features on-site and adjoining sites (including the street).

Solar access means the availability of sunshine to a property.

State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) are a form of EPI made under the EP&A Act by the Governor to make provision with respect to any matter that, in the opinion of the Minister, is of State or regional environmental planning significance, or is of environmental planning significance to a district in the Greater Sydney Region.

Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) is a formal report prepared for the applicant in support of their DA, addressing the council controls and the merits of the proposal.

Streetscape refers to the view from the public domain, usually the street (and possibly a laneway or public reserve).

Zoning is the system of categorising land uses as prohibited, requiring consent or not requiring consent within particular areas. Zones (such as Residential or Commercial) are generally shown in map form and their objects and permissible uses are set out in EPIs.


BCABuilding Code of Australia
BPBNSW Building Professionals Board
CCConstruction Certificate
DADevelopment application
EP&A ActEnvironmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
EP&A RegulationThe Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000
EPIEnvironmental Planning Instrument (a SEPP or an LEP)
LEPLocal Environmental Plan
OCOccupation Certificate
PCAPrincipal Certifying Authority
SEEStatement of Environmental Effects
SEPPState Environmental Planning Policy