Earthworks and structural supports

Earthworks and structural supports that exceed 600 millimetres above or below existing ground level may be done as complying development if the proposal meets the relevant standards identified in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the State Policy).

Development standards

The State Policy identifies specific development standards relating to:

  • excavation
  • fill
  • retaining walls and structural support
  • drainage.

Please refer to the State Policy for a full list of development standards that apply to earthworks, retaining walls and structural support, fill, and drainage under the relevant complying development code.

Other considerations

  • 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.
  • Any structures located on public land or on or over a public road (including temporary structures) require separate approval from the relevant council or Roads and Maritime Services under the Roads Act 1993 and the Local Government Act 1993.
  • 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 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).