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Planning Approval Pathways

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 a registered certifier.

Contents

From 1 July 2021, all Complying Development Certificate (CDC) applications must be lodged through the NSW Planning Portal.

Complying development is a fast-track approval process for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial development. Complying development generally includes larger building works than exempt development. For this reason, ‘sign off’ by a building professional (known as a certifying authority) is needed. Provided the proposal fully meets specific development standards, it can be determined by a Council or registered certifier without the need for a full development application.

Complying development is also subject to conditions of approval to protect surrounding uses during the construction period and the life of the complying development.

Examples of complying development include: 

  • building a one and two storey home
  • building a granny flat or secondary dwelling
  • 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.

If your renovation or build is complying development (or requires a development application through council) you may need to apply for a BASIX certificate.

How to apply online

  • Contact your council about applying for a CDC and which documents you will need. For more information read our pre-application document checklist
  • If needed, you can also search for a registered certifier on the Building Professionals Board’s Register.
  • Register for a NSW Planning Portal account to start your application.
  • Log in to complete the online application. You will need to submit a certificate of title, site plan, design plans, structural plans and building specifications and any other documents the council or certifier requires.

Class 2 Residential applications

Developers and building practitioners need to be aware of the specific requirements involved with applying for a Class 2 Complying Development Certificate.

Developers or building practitioners must provide details of the build team so practitioners can be recorded and notified during the construction stage. The build team will consist of your registered building practitioner, design practitioners and principal design practitioner, if appointed.

Important: A set of declared regulated designs for a Class 2 development will need to be provided before building work starts. A list of the recommended regulated designs can be found on the NSW Fair Trading website.

More information on this process, as well as other useful resources, is available in our Developer and Building Practitioner Resources section.

Useful Resources 

Telecommunications in new developments

If you are a developer or owner-builder, there are important Commonwealth telecommunications rules you need to comply with.

View more information 

Bushfire recovery

Many people in NSW lost their homes or businesses in the recent devastating bushfires across the state.

The NSW Government is continuing to make changes to planning rules to make it easier for people to recover and rebuild after these bushfires.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is continuing to work with councils, communities and state agencies on what else is needed to support the recovery and rebuilding effort.

More information is available on the Department’s website.

View information

Relevant legislation

General exclusions

Complying development cannot be usually carried out on:

  • Land which contains critical habitat
  • Land which contains a heritage item which is on the State Heritage Register or subject to an Interim Heritage Order or a heritage item identified by an environmental planning instrument, such as a council’s LEP.
  • Land which is classified as a Class 1 or 2 acid sulfate soil
  • Land which contain environmental sensitive areas
  • Land which contain environmental hazardous areas

For a full list of specific land exemptions for complying development, please refer to clause 1.19 of the Codes SEPP.

How do I know if I qualify for Complying Development?

Councils in NSW can issue a planning certificate (Section 10.7 (2) and (5) certificate) to show whether complying development under the Codes SEPP can be carried out on a particular lot of land. This is the easiest way to find out whether the Codes SEPP can be used on your land. It is recommended that applicants obtain the full Section 10.7 (2) and (5) certificate. This will provide a comprehensive list of planning matters and constraints affecting the subject lot.

A certificate of title that indicates the size of the lot and any easements or notations that may affect the lot. A certificate of title is available from www.lpma.nsw. gov.au.

A survey plan prepared by a registered surveyor is also useful. Make sure the surveyor includes the location of houses on adjoining lots, contours and plenty of existing ground levels around where you propose your new development as this will be useful in determining setbacks and building heights.

Lodging a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) application

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.

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.

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 number of council areas and is being expanded to include more certifying organisations in 2021.

Building works can cause disruption, but talking through your designs and likely timeframes with neighbours will usually help alleviate concerns before the work begins. We recommend talking to your neighbours before receiving an approval and again before you commence construction.

Fire safety, Cladding 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.

Combustible Cladding

Following the tragic fire at the Grenfell Tower in London in 2017 and the fire at the Lacrosse Building in Melbourne in 2014, new laws have been made for buildings with combustible cladding. The laws are part of a whole-of-government response to the fire safety risks posed by external combustible cladding.

These laws are the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Identification of Buildings with Combustible Cladding) Regulation 2018  and State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment (Exempt Development – Cladding and Decorative Work) 2018. They commenced on 22 October 2018.

Under the Regulation, owners of certain buildings with external combustible cladding are required to register their building with the NSW Government through a simple, user-friendly online portal. For buildings occupied before 22 October 2018, the deadline for registration was 22 February 2019. Owners of new buildings will be required to register their building within four months of the building first being occupied.

Building types

The Regulation applies to the following building types (both new and existing buildings) of two or more storeys:

  • Residential apartment buildings
  • Other types of residential buildings where unrelated people sleep. For example, hotels, boarding houses, backpackers, student accommodation
  • Aged-care buildings; hospitals and day surgeries (and any associated single dwellings within the building)
  • Public assembly buildings. For example, theatres, cinemas, schools and churches (and any associated single dwellings within the building).
Cladding types

The Regulation applies if any of the above buildings have external combustible cladding made of the following materials:

  • metal composite panels, including products that consist of aluminium, zinc, or copper outer layers and a core material; or
  • insulated cladding systems including systems comprised of polystyrene, polyurethane, and polyisocyanurate.

There are also new provisions in the Regulation that require referral of certain 'alternative solutions' (under the Building Code of Australia) involving external combustible cladding to Fire and Rescue NSW.

How to register your building
  • Visit the Cladding Registration website
  • Register for an account to start your registration for combustible cladding
  • Log in to complete the online form.

Other considerations

  • 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 the 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.
  • 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).

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 riverfront area
    • land in an ecologically sensitive area
    • 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) System 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

For a full list of the general requirements for complying development, please refer to clause 1.18 of the Codes SEPP.

Where does complying development not apply?

In addition, complying development cannot be carried out on land that:

What to tell your neighbours

We recommend talking to your neighbours before receiving an approval and again before you commence construction.

If you're looking to go down the fast-tracked development route, there are two required neighbour notifications: 

1. Pre-approval notification

Talking to your neighbours about your development proposal, big or small, is always a good idea and often saves a lot of trouble down the track. The Department encourages talking to your neighbours as early as possible in the design process to help ensure the development process is as smooth as possible for all involved and doesn't come as a surprise.

In metropolitan areas, a certifier or council is required to inform neighbours within a 20 metre radius that you have applied for a complying development certificate 14 days before it can be approved. This is called pre-approval notification. 

Neighbour notification must be in writing, the notice may be given in person, through a letter box or via the post. If a lot contains an apartment building or is a dual occupancy, the occupier of each individual home/apartment must be notified. Neighbours can request to see the plans of the complying development, however, there is no obligation for the applicant to make these available. 

While there is no formal pre-approval notification required in residential release areas and most rural and regional areas, it is still a good idea to make your neighbours aware of any development proposals.

Template for Neighbour notification of an application for complying development (WORD)

2. Pre-construction notification

Once your complying development certificate has been issued, you must notify neighbours within 20 metres from the boundary of the development lot, prior to any work commencing. This is called pre-construction notification. This notice is for their information only, neighbours cannot make a submission on a neighbouring complying development. 

If you live in a metropolitan area, you must give your neighbours at least seven days' notice. If you live in rural and regional areas or a residential release area, you must give your neighbour two days' notice. It is the applicants’ responsibility to notify neighbours before construction begins and this must be done in writing. 

Template for Notifying neighbours before commencing complying development works (WORD)

If you would like more information about which complying developments require notification; which properties you should notify; and whether you live in a metropolitan, regional and rural area or a residential release area; view the fact sheet “Your guide to neighbourhood consultation for complying development ”. 

 

Portal fees

In accordance with the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, applicants are required to pay a digital application processing fee for certain planning applications and certificates.

A full list of fees can be found on the NSW Planning Portal Service Fees page.

More information

If you need assistance using the CDC service, please view our quick reference guides or contact ServiceNSW on 1300 305 695 for additional support.