Preliminary Development Advice

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Find out if you need to submit a Development Application.

Development Advisory Services

Introducing Council’s Development Advisory Services

The development process can be confusing for first time applicants.  So before preparing development documentation, it is advised that you discuss your proposal with a Development Advisory Services (DAS) Officer. Council’s dedicated DAS team provide general planning advice, including requirements for lodging a Development Application (DA), and explaining the DA process, including:

  • the planning controls and policies that affect your property;
  • whether your proposal is likely to require formal approval or can potentially be done without Council consent;
  • the process for applying for approval to carry out the work; and
  • identifying any issues with your proposal so that they can be resolved, which could mean your DA is more likely to be supported.

The benefit of discussing your proposal with a DAS officer is to ensure that the development assessment planner can focus on assessing and determining the application.  This avoids the need for the planner having to come back to you and asking for more information, thereby slowing the processing of the DA.

Therefore, before making any changes to your property, large or small, it is recommended you contact Council to discuss your proposal. This is a free service, and DAS officers are available between the hours of 8:30am and 4:30pm Monday to Friday, and  9am and 1pm Saturdays, at both the Eastgardens and Rockdale Customer Service Centres.

Department of Planning guide to development

Another resource available to assist in explaining the DA process as well as the next steps to get you building, is ‘Your guide to the Development Application process’ (released by the Department of Planning and Environment in May 2018).

The guide is specifically helpful for:

  • people building a new home or planning a renovation;
  • small-scale developers;
  • people preparing submissions on developments proposed in their area;
  • real estate sales people (giving pre-purchase advice);
  • project specialists (such as granny flat developers); and
  • those wishing to learn more about the DA and assessment process.

Do I need to submit a Development Application?

Development generally falls into one of three categories:

- exempt development;

- complying development; or

- development requiring consent. 

Exempt or complying development does not require planning or construction approval by Council, (see further explanation below).

Development requiring consent means a DA needs to be lodged and approved by Council before commencing works.  A DA is a formal request for permission to carry out various types of development on a site, and therefore requires an assessment by Council prior to determination of the proposal.

Exempt Development

What type of works are potentially exempt development?

Some minor renovations and low impact works, which have minimal environmental / amenity impact on the local neighbourhood, may be considered exempt development.  The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008, contains a set of standards you must comply with for exempt works. 

Provided the proposed works are low impact and meet all relevant development standards identified in the  Policy and the relevant local environmental plan, a planning or building approval may not be needed.  A few examples of development that may be exempt development are:

  • awnings, blinds and canopies;
  • balconies, decks, patios, pergolas, terraces and gazebos;
  • BBQs and other outdoor cooking structures;
  • garden sheds, cabanas, and cubby houses;
  • shade structures, privacy screens and screen enclosures;
  • carports;
  • change of use of premises;
  • demolition;
  • driveways and hard stand spaces;
  • earthworks, retaining walls and structural support;
  • landscaping structures and rainwater tanks;
  • fences;
  • minor building alterations (internal and external);
  • portable swimming pools and spas;
  • television aerials and air conditioning units;
  • advertising and signage;
  • temporary uses and structures; and
  • home businesses, home industries and home occupations (excluding manufacture of food products or skin penetration procedures).

Note that it is the owners responsibility to comply with the development standards of the State Policy if undertaking any exempt works.

What type of works to heritage properties are potentially exempt development?

If you plan to do some building works to a listed heritage building, you are generally required to lodge a DA.  However, you may be exempt from the need for development consent for certain works of a minor nature.  Minor works generally include repairs and maintenance of heritage buildings, painting of a residential building in a colour scheme devised by Council's Heritage Advisor, or replacement of building elements on a 'like for like' basis.

You must check with Council to determine whether the works you intend to do could be considered as 'minor' prior to commencing the work. Further information regarding potential heritage properties exemption can be found here.

Complying Development

What type of works are potentially complying development?

Complying development is a combined planning and construction approval for straightforward development that can be determined through a fast-track assessment by a council or private certifier. Complying development is specified as small-scale, low-impact development, and applies to homes, businesses and industry, including:

  • demolition of a building;
  • new dwelling houses;
  • internal or external alterations and/or additions to dwelling houses;
  • associated works including earthworks, retaining walls and drainage;
  • swimming pools and spas;
  • carports, garages and car spaces;
  • shade structures, conservatories, awnings and pergolas;
  • new industrial buildings;
  • internal alterations to commercial buildings;
  • shop or office fitouts, shopfronts and awnings;
  • signage;
  • certain types of land and Strata subdivision; and
  • changes of certain business, commercial and industrial uses.

Complying development must comply with pre-set criteria detailed in a relevant planning instrument, including:

Note that it is the owners responsibility to comply with the development standards of the State Policy if undertaking any complying development works.

Notifying neighbours

Council encourages consultation between neighbours in relation to complying developments. Additionally, the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 has mandatory notification requirements works on your property in residential zones.

What is required for complying development?

A Planning Certificate (issued under Section 10.7 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act) provides formal advice on land zoning and planning controls applicable to your site. This Certificate confirms if you are eligible to undertake your works as Complying Development.

Complying development requires a Complying Development Certificate (CDC), which may be obtained from Council (CDC Application, Appointment of Council as PCA and Contract for Certification Work) or a private Accredited Certifier.  A Complying Development application requires inclusion of detailed plans and specifications to be prepared (eg by an architect and/or professional engineer).  

Council certifiers are qualified Building Surveyors with first-hand knowledge of the Bayside area, and are available to provide advice and fee quotes for preparing CDCs. The Bayside certifiers team can be contacted on 1300 581 299 or

Exclusions from Exempt or Complying Development

Some development, although meeting the general criteria set out for exempt or complying development, may still require development consent from Council if the land is located in the following areas:

  • critical habitat of an endangered species, population or ecological community;
  • wilderness area;
  • comprises an item that is listed on the State Heritage Register;
  • comprises an item of environmental heritage or a heritage item by an environmental planning instrument;
  • environmentally sensitive area;
  • is in the 25 or higher ANEF contour;
  • is identified as Class 1 or 2 Acid Sulfate Soils;
  • is significantly contaminated; 
  • is flood affected; 
  • is in a groundwater exclusion zone; or
  • is shown as excluded on the Botany Bay Exempt Development Land Map or the Botany Bay Complying development Land Map (NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008).

[Note that, in accordance with Clause 1.19 of the SEPP, the exclusions zone on the land maps only apply to the Housing Code, Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code, and Inland Code.]

Should you wish to discuss whether your proposal may be undertaken as exempt or complying development, please visit the DAS counter at either of the Rockdale or Eastgardens Customer Service Centres.  We can assist you in obtaining preliminary identification of any constraints which may potentially exclude your proposal from being undertaken as either exempt or complying development.

Council Approval

Development that is not exempt or complying development requires a DA to be lodged and approved by Council.

‘Development’ can include small scale proposals to individual dwellings, as well as more complex proposals relating to higher density residential development, or commercial / industrial development, and can include (but is not limited to):

  • demolition of a building;
  • building a residential, commercial or industrial building;
  • additions or renovations to your home or commercial premises;
  • the subdivision of land;
  • strata subdividing a building; and
  • first use or changing the use of a building.

Detail regarding what is required to lodge a DA can be found in Lodging a Development Application.  It is recommended you discuss these requirements with a DAS Officer prior to lodgement, or consider whether a formal Pre-Development Application meeting would be beneficial.

Formal Pre-Development Application Meeting

Council offers formal Pre-Development Application (Pre-DA) services for large or complex proposals, or proposals which are contentious in nature. 

Use of the Pre-DA service is highly recommended for all prospective applicants for dual occupancies, multi-residential, mixed use development and major commercial or industrial development. Mandatory Pre-DA meetings are required for significant or larger scale development.  A fee is charged for this service, based on the value of the development. 

If you are unsure whether your proposal needs a formal Pre-DA meeting, it is advised that you first discuss your proposal with a DAS Officer, who may be able to answer your query over the counter. Subsequently, a fee quote can be obtained at any time from a DAS Officer, based on the estimated cost of works.

The formal Pre-DA service aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of planning and development matters as they relate to a particular site. Experience shows that Pre-DA meetings for larger proposals save applicants time and money by improving their understanding of the process and identifying and resolving issues early on.

Applications for Pre-DA services need to be accompanied by a completed Pre-Development Application Advice form, including electronic submission of the necessary information and documentation as contained within the checklist and payment of the required fee. Once a Pre-DA request is lodged, Council will advise of the date and time of the meeting. A Pre-DA meeting is generally held within two weeks of the lodgement of the application.

Following the meeting, Council will provide formal correspondence, including a summary of the planning advice, comments and particular planning matters discussed at the meeting. Council will outline any issues that will need to be considered prior to the subsequent lodgement of the DA, including any design changes that would be required to improve the permissibility or quality of the proposal.

Preliminary Development Advice
Need to contact us?

Call 1300 581 299 (weekdays 8:30am-4pm and Saturday 9am-1pm) or email