A NSW Government website

Exempt and complying development policy

The State Policy for exempt and complying development is contained within the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008

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 renovations and low impact works not requiring a full merit assessment by council can be done faster and quicker.

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

For more information about exempt development, go to the NSW Planning Portal.

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.

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.

Recent updates

Outdoor dining on private land

The exempt development pathways introduced during the COVID crisis for outdoor dining on private land and at registered clubs have been made permanent. From 1 January 2024, registered clubs, food and drink premises, and artisan food and drink industries will be able to use their private land and car parking spaces for outdoor dining as exempt development. New development standards have been included to maintain patron safety and accessibility.

The exempt measures allow more outdoor space but do not allow a venue to increase its maximum patron capacity. 

For more information, see our Outdoor dining page.

Extended Business Hours Noise Guide

We have prepared an Extended Business Hours Noise Guide (PDF, 1.4 MB) for businesses wanting to extend their hours using the exempt operating and trading hours provisions in the Codes SEPP.

The guide explains:

  • what the exempt operating and trading hours are
  • which businesses are eligible
  • the obligations to managing noise
  • how to prepare for extended hours
  • how to reduce noise from the business.

Housekeeping amendments to the Codes SEPP

Updates and improvements were made to the Codes SEPP and associated policies in December 2022. It ensures the Codes SEPP is current, operates smoothly and is clear on its intended development outcomes.

The amendments respond to feedback from stakeholders including applicants, certifiers, councils, industry and the community.

For more details on the key changes, visit Housekeeping amendments to the Codes SEPP.

Outdoor dining on footpaths and public spaces

The streets across NSW can come alive thanks to faster and easier approvals for councils and businesses so we can eat and drink alfresco.

We have changed the planning rules to enable pubs and small bars across the state to implement outdoor dining as exempt development permanently.

This means all pubs and small bars can apply to council to use the footpath and public spaces to serve diners alfresco under exempt development. These changes align small bars and pubs with planning rules for cafes and restaurants.

Business and industrial codes reforms

In February 2022, we changed the business and industrial parts of the Codes SEPP to allow businesses to:

  • quickly adapt their offerings to new market demands for things like entertainment facilities, indoor recreation facilities and creative industries
  • attract investment with new and larger building allowances
  • carry out site and parking upgrades to accommodate click and collect
  • stay open for longer in certain areas.

We also introduced a new Business Zone Design Guide to support the design of complying development for new buildings and additions located in some business zones.

For more details on the reforms, visit the NSW Planning Portal.

Reducing red tape, costs and delays for exempt and complying development.

Planning rules for complying development including one and two storey homes, renovations and extensions.

How to use exempt and complying development pathways for your neighbourhood centre.