What is Local Development?

Local development is the most common type of development in NSW, with projects ranging from home extensions to medium sized commercial, retail and industrial developments.

A development is considered local development if a local environmental plan (LEP) or State environmental planning policy (SEPP) states that development consent is required before the development can take place.

Facts and Figures

In 2013-14 local development approvals had a total capital investment value of $22.24 billion. 2013-14 Assessment Activity:

  • 60,550 DAs determined, and
  • 14,011 modifications determined.

View the latest Local Development Performance Monitor.

How do I apply?

To find out if your development needs consent, you should first look at the zoning tables in the relevant LEP or SEPPs for the area of the proposed development.

You can enter your property address in Find a Property to see what planning constraints and zoning rules affect your property.

Each LEP or SEPP will classify development into one of the following categories:

  • development that does not need consent,
  • development that needs consent, or
  • development that is prohibited.

If your development needs consent, an application must be lodged with the council. This will need to include:

  • a description of the development,
  • the estimated cost of the development,
  • a plan of the land,
  • a sketch of development, and
  • environmental assessment e.g. environmental impact statement or statement of environment effects.

The level of environmental assessment that must be provided with the development application will differ depending on the likely impacts of the development.

The procedures for applying for development consent, the level of environmental assessment required, the notification required and appeal rights will differ depending on how a development is categorised. The categories include:

For designated development an environmental impact statement will be required and third parties must be notified and can appeal against a decision to grant consent. Designated development refers to developments that are high-impact developments (e.g. likely to generate pollution) or are located in or near an environmentally sensitive area (e.g. a wetland). There are two ways a development can be categorised as 'designated development':

  • the class of development can be listed in Schedule 3 to the EP&A Regulation as being designated development, or
  • a LEP or SEPP can declare certain types of development to be designated.

Examples of designated development include chemical factories, large marinas, quarries and sewerage treatment works. For the Regulation's full list of designated developments, read Schedule 3 to the EP&A Regulation.

If a development application is categorised as designated development, the application:

  • must be accompanied by an environmental impact statement (EIS),
  • will require public notification for at least 30 days, and
  • can be the subject of a merits appeal to the Land and Environment Court by objectors.

Prior to preparing an EIS, applicants must consult with the Secretary of the Department of Planning & Environment and, in completing the EIS, must have regard to the Secretary's requirements in relation to the form, content and public availability of the EIS.

The following form can be used to undertake this consultation: Form A - Request for Secretary's Requirements for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.

For integrated development approval will need to be obtained from other public authorities (e.g. the Environmental Protection Agency) before consent can be granted. Integrated development applications require a permit listed in s91 of the EP&A Act. For example this includes an aquaculture permit, mining lease, pollution licence, Aboriginal heritage impact permit.

The consent authority must refer the development application to the relevant agency and incorporate the agency's general terms of approval. It must not approve the development application if the agency recommends refusal. If the advice is not received in 21 days after the agency has received the application or requested additional information, the consent authority can determine the development application.

For advertised development, the consent authority will have to give the public notice of the development application. Advertised development includes:

  • Integrated development, if it requires an approval under the Heritage Act 1977(NSW), the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) or the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) (pollution licence) (called 'nominated integrated development').
  • Threatened species development (development affecting threatened species which requires a species impact statement).
  • Class 1 aquaculture development (development that is Class 1 aquaculture under SEPP 62 -Sustainable Aquaculture).

The notification period for advertised development is 14 days, or 30 days for integrated development and threatened species development.

Differing minimum public consultation requirements apply according to the type of development. For example, designated development requires 30 days of public consultation and advertised development requires 14 days.

Development consents are issued by the consent authority. This is usually the council, but can sometimes be the Minister for Planning if a SEPP specifies the Minister as the consent authority.

For more information about this process, please contact your Council.

Relevant Legislation:

All SEPPs and LEPs are available from the NSW Legislation website.

Other development assessment systems