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Planning Approval Pathways

Development without consent

Not all development requires consent before work can start, including including home businesses in a residential zone

What is development without consent?

Not all development requires consent before work can start. This includes some low-impact or routine activities such as home businesses in a residential zone, environmental protection works in an environmental conservation zone, or markets in a public recreation zone. The local environmental plan and/or state environmental planning policies that apply to the area or activity will list all developments that are "permitted without consent".

However, some of these developments (or activities) may still need a licence, permit or other approval from a public authority and may need to undergo an environmental assessment before approval can be given.

If it is Local Development, your council will be the best source of information about what does not require consent or other permits that may be required.

Part 5 approvals for public authorities

Development without consent can also apply to activities undertaken by government departments or agencies as part of their everyday responsibilities (e.g. water supply infrastructure being constructed by a water utility). Many of these activities are allowed to be carried out under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Transport and Infrastructure) 2021.

Environmental assessment of these activities is undertaken under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning Assessment Act 1979  (EP&A Act).

How do you apply for approval?

The process for gaining approval of your activity will vary according to the nature of your activity and the licence, permit or approval needed to carry out the activity.

The purpose of the Part 5 assessment system is to ensure public authorities fully consider environmental issues before they undertake or approve activities that do not require development consent from a council or the Minister.

If an activity is judged by the relevant public authority to 'significantly affect the environment', then an environmental impact statement will need to be prepared and considered by the public authority.


Guidelines ensure assessments under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act include a comprehensive environmental assessment, and appropriate community consultation.

Web Tool

A web tool has been developed to guide determining authorities through the Division 5.1 planning process, and facilitate publication of Review of Environmental Factors documents. Use of the web tool is voluntary. It is designed to work in conjunction with the Guidelines for Division 5.1 assessments. This web tool is accessible via login to the NSW Planning Portal. If you need assistance accessing the web tool, please contact the department here.

Last updated: 16/05/2023