Defining complying development
Complying development is a fast-track approval process for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial development. If the application meets specific criteria, it can be determined by a council or accredited certifier.
Examples of complying development include:
- building a one and two storey home
- building earthworks and structural supports
- building a fence
- building a swimming pool
- building waterway structures
- carrying out a strata subdivision
- demolishing a building
- establishing a home-based enterprise
- removing and pruning a tree
- renovating a home
- temporary uses and structures
- works to improve fire safety.
To find out if your building project or renovation is complying development visit the building or renovating page.
If your renovation or build is complying development (or requires a development application through council) you'll need to apply for a BASIX certificate. Read more about BASIX certificates.
Exempt and Complying Development eModule
The Department’s new eModule is a short online course which provides useful information on exempt development (no planning or building approval required) and complying development (a fast track approval).
The Module is designed for:
- Council customer service staff, planners and building surveyors
- Homeowners and businesses wanting to learn more about exempt and complying development
- Builders and Building Designers
- Certifiers wishing to take a refresher course
- Anyone wanting to explore private certification as a career option
Lodging a Complying Development Certificate (CDC)
An application for a CDC can be lodged with either a local council or a private accredited certifier. A CDC must be issued by the certifying authority prior to building work commencing. The Building Professionals Board is an independent NSW Government authority which is responsible for overseeing building and subdivision certification in NSW. The Board accredits and regulates certifiers in NSW, to ensure the integrity of the certification system and compliance of the built environment with legislative requirements.
It is recommended that you talk to your local council or a private accredited certifier before you finalise your plans. They can provide guidance to ensure that you meet the relevant requirements and development standards.
A new Online CDC application service for some residential development types has been released through the NSW Planning Portal. The service is available in a limited number of council areas and will be expanded to include more certifying organisations through-out 2019
Fire safety and complying development
Fire safety is an important matter which must be considered when carrying out alterations or additions to existing buildings. Fire safety considerations may impact whether your development can qualify for complying development.
Specific requirements apply when carrying out a complying development on existing Class 1b and 9 buildings. This includes all buildings other than a detached house or outbuilding.
More information about fire safety requirements for alterations of use to existing commercial and industrial buildings built before 1 January 1993 is available in the Department’s Fire Safety Technical Guideline for Complying Development-December 2014.
- Complying development does not override private covenants or similar legal instruments. For example, a covenant that requires a specific construction material or limits building heights continue to apply to the land.
- All works must be structurally adequate, installed in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications and comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
- If you propose to remove or prune any existing trees or vegetation, you should contact your council first to make sure you don’t need approval for this.
- Buildings constructed before 1987 may contain asbestos. If you are unsure, you should have the building assessed by a qualified professional before carrying out any renovation or maintenance work. Visit asbestosawareness.com.au or call 1800 Asbestos (1800 272 378) or read the NSW Government Asbestos Fact Sheet for more information.
- Any structures that would be located on public land, or on or over a public road (including temporary structures), must have separate approval from the relevant council or Roads and Maritime Services under the Roads Act 1993 and the Local Government Act 1993.
General Requirements for Complying Development
- Generally, complying development cannot be carried out on:
- land within a heritage conservation area, or a draft heritage conservation area (there are some exceptions, please check the relevant development standards for more information)
- land reserved for a public purpose
- class 1 or 2 land on council’s acid sulphate soils map
- land in a buffer area
- land in a river front area
- land in an ecologically sensitive area
- environmentally sensitive land
- land in a protected area
- land affected by a coastline hazard, coastal hazard or coastal erosion hazard
- land in a foreshore area
- land in the 25 Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) counter or a higher ANEF counter
- unsewered land in a drinking water catchment identified in an environmental planning instruments
- land declared as a special area
- land in an environmentally sensitive area.
- In addition, complying development cannot be carried out on land that:
- comprises an item that is listed in the State Heritage Register (unless an exemption under section 57 of the Heritage Act 1977 has been granted)
- is subject to an interim heritage order (unless an exemption under section 57 of the Heritage Act 1977 has been granted)
- is identified as an item of environmental heritage or a heritage item in an environmental planning instrument (unless an exemption under section 57 of the Heritage Act 1977 has been granted)
- is a critical habitat under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
- is a wilderness area under the Wilderness Act 1987.
- You can carry out complying development on bushfire prone land, subject to the requirements of the relevant Code (clause 3.4 sets out the bushfire prone land requirements under the Housing Code).
- You can carry out complying development on flood prone lots, subject to the requirements of the relevant Code (clause 3.5 sets out development standards for flood control lot under the Housing Code).