Earthworks, retaining walls and structural support

Earthworks and structural supports (including retaining walls and other forms of structural support) may not need planning approval (known as exempt development) if the proposal meets the relevant standards set out in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the State Policy).

Development standards

Generally, earthworks and structural supports must:

  • not be carried out, constructed or installed on or in a heritage item or a draft heritage item
  • if in a heritage conservation area and draft heritage conservation area, may be carried out as exempt development only when constructed or installed in the rear yard
  • be located at least 40 metres from a body of water (natural)
  • not redirect the flow of any surface water or ground water or cause sediment to be transported onto an adjoining property
  • be separated from any other retaining wall on the site horizontally by at least two metres as shown below.

Example

Earthworks-structural-supports-exempt

Separation distance between retaining walls and structural supports

Please refer to these provisions of the State Policy for a full list of development standards that earthworks, retaining walls and structural support must meet to be exempt development.

Other considerations

  • 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.
  • Works must be structurally adequate, installed in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications and comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
  • 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.
  • Generally, exempt development cannot be carried out on: