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Understanding the Development Application Process in NSW

Understanding the Development Application Process in NSW

Feb 22, 2024

Navigating the Development Application process in NSW can be daunting for first-time applicants.

Here, we’ll provide a step-by-step breakdown of the development approval process to help you navigate the system and keep your build on track, from the basics of Development Applications to obtaining a Construction Certificate.

Do you need development consent from your Council?

The NSW planning system adopts a risk-based approach to development. The type of consent or approval required for your build largely depends on the scale and potential impacts of your development (like traffic, noise, privacy and solar access) on adjoining properties.

Three assessment pathways may apply to small residential developments:

  1. Exempt development

  2. Complying development

  3. Development requiring consent from a consent authority (typically a council)

Exempt Development

Exempt development refers to low-impact work that can be done without a development application, like installing a small garden shed or repairing a fence. These minor projects do not require a full assessment by the council and can generally be completed more quickly and at a lower cost.

Complying Development

Complying developments generally encompass larger building works than exempt developments. This fast-track approval process applies to straightforward projects that fall neatly into set standards and policies. A Complying Development Certificate (CDC) will need to be issued for these development projects.

Development Requiring Council Consent

More complex projects require formal Development Applications (DAs) because they may have unique needs or requests that fall outside the standard guidelines. A formal Development Application needs to be submitted for any development projects with specifications outside the standard policies and criteria set out by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

Why are Development Applications (DAs) required?

Development Applications are required to protect the interests of all stakeholders affected by the proposed development. The larger the project, the more likely it will impact the environment around it. Some of the important areas that a DA helps to assess the impact on include:

  • Natural environment

  • Heritage buildings or conservation areas

  • Social impacts on neighbours and community

  • Noise levels

  • Waste

  • Privacy

  • Access to natural sunlight

  • Traffic impacts.

The Development Assessment and Construction Approval Processes

Image: Pexels

The NSW Development Application process is divided into six stages that ensure the development project meets the necessary standards and regulations.

Stage 1: Pre-lodgement

Pre-lodgement is the first stage in the process and involves preparing all the necessary documents and plans for your development application. As part of this process, you’ll need to prepare the following:

  • Building design plans

  • Town planning report

  • Statement of environmental effects

  • BASIX Certificate

  • Thermal Performance Assessment

  • Any other documents relevant to your project

You will also need to get your plans stamped and approved by any relevant authorities in your area, such as Subsidence Advisory approval for mining districts or approval from local water utilities like Hunter Water.

Stage 2: Lodgement

Once your DA has been prepared, it is formally lodged with the council. The council then performs initial assessments, including notification, referrals and allocation to an assessment officer.

Stage 3: Assessment

During the assessment stage, the council reviews the proposed development to ensure it aligns with all relevant planning controls applicable to the site.

Stage 4: Determination

Image: Pexels

The determination is the decision stage. There are three possible outcomes for your build based on whether your development meets several DA conditions:

  1. Development Consent, with possible conditions

  2. Development Refusal, including the reasons why

  3. Deferred Commencement Consent, requiring the resolution of any identified issues

Stage 5: Post Decision – Obtain Your Construction Certificate (CC)

Once the Development Consent is granted, you’ll need to obtain a Construction Certificate (CC) before commencing any building work. The CC verifies that the detailed construction plans and construction reports align with the development consent and comply with the relevant building codes and standards.

Stage 6: Get Your Occupation Certificate (OC)

The Occupation Certificate (OC) is the final stage in the development and construction phase. It certifies that you have met the requirements of your development consent and Construction Certificate and that the building is now ready to be occupied.

Do I need a Complying Development Certificate?

Image: Pexels

A Complying Development Certificate (CDC) is a streamlined building approval process that combines the functions of a Development Application (DA) and a Construction Certificate (CC), enabling quicker and simpler approvals for building projects.

A CDC can be issued by a local council or a private accredited certifier. It can apply to residential, commercial and industrial projects, provided they meet specific pre-determined development standards set under State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPP).

The CDC process eliminates the need for a separate DA, accelerating the approval time significantly. This certificate ensures the proposed development adheres to all relevant legislation and building standards. It offers a fast-tracked pathway for straightforward developments — however, not all developments qualify for a CDC.

We will determine whether your development will require a Complying Development Certificate or a full Development Application and Construction Certificate at the start of the application process.

Let us simplify the development approval process for your build

Don't let the complexities of the development approval process hold your dream project back. With the right guidance and support, you can navigate the system successfully.

At Sorensen Design & Planning, we understand the intricacies of the Development Application process in NSW. With extensive experience and connections to local councils across the state, we can simplify getting a Development Application approval for your build.

We work with a network of local building professionals, including private certifiers, who will assess and inspect the Construction Certificate and provide approval as soon as possible. We also prepare all the necessary paperwork for a seamless application, ensuring your building project goes ahead as planned and on schedule.

Make your dream project a reality with Sorensen Design & Planning — contact our team today!

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