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Swimming pools

Pools can be great fun but they have the potential to cause danger. Council wants you to enjoy your pool and has your safety in mind, which is why the below information applies to all swimming pools.

Any swimming pool that has a depth of 300 mm or more, irrespective of swimming pool wall height must have a swimming pool fence. You must have approval for the construction or erection of any swimming pool/spa capable of containing 2000 litres of water or more. An application cave be lodged with Council for a prompt determination.

Any swimming pool that has a depth of 300 mm or more must have a swimming pool fence. Swimming pools and spas with a volume of less than 2000 litres may be constructed without prior approval from Council. The Electronic Housing Code (EHC) allows owners to investigate whether they can installation a pool/spa on their property without consulting Council. Any pool/spa with a volume greater than 2000 litres required prior approval.  An application can be lodged with Council for a prompt determination.

Drowning of young children can happen quickly and silently. When using a swimming pool, children should always be supervised and young children should be taught to float and swim at the earliest possible age. Pool users should be aware that if there is a death or injury in a pool, legal liability may fall on the person responsible for the pool at the time, even if a safety fence is installed. Council can offer a safety Compliance Certificate check of your swimming pool.

  • Download the Swimming Pool Certificate of Compliance form from our A-Z forms page.

Swimming pool fencing

When installing a swimming pool fence, it must comply with the Australian Standard 1926.1-2012 Swimming Pool Safety – Part 1 Safety barriers for swimming pools. The standards can be viewed free of charge by appointment at Council, or may be accessed online here. Alternatively you can buy your own copy of the Standard from the SAI Global InfoStore.

It is important to emphasise that while fencing may assist in reducing drownings in backyard pools, the most effective way to prevent drowning or near drowning is for children to be adequately supervised by a parent or other responsible adult. To assist pool owners to become familiar with their legal responsibilities and pool safety techniques and strategies, the NSW Office of Local Government has brochures, checklists and other important information relating to backyard swimming pools. These can be found on the Office of Local Government's website www.olg.nsw.gov.au

Under the Swimming Pools Act, access to spa pools by young children is required to be restricted by a child-resistant barrier or a lockable child-safe structure (such as a lid) when not in actual use. The safe design and construction of spas is also extremely important. Further information about safe design and construction of spas is available from NSW Fair Trading which has published a safety guide on its website at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.

Find out more about the Department of Local Government Pool Register.

Contact details
Development Assessment and Compliance Section
02 4980 0215

Swimming pool safety fencing requirements

There are more than 4,500 swimming pools in Port Stephens, so pool safety is a big community issue. Backyard swimming pools can be great fun, however, they are a significant responsibility for the landowner and occupier as drowning of young children can happen quickly and silently.

While fencing and barriers may help reduce drowning of young children in swimming pools, there is no protection or safety equipment that can replace adequate supervision of children by a parent or another responsible adult. Research on child drownings in backyard swimming pools indicates that the most common contributing factors are inadequately fenced pools and human error (eg people leaving the gate open or fences not being maintained in good condition).

It is the responsibility of the owner/occupier to keep the pool fence in a state of good repair, ensuring all gates providing access to the swimming area are maintained so they are self-closing and self-latching. Pool users and owners should be aware that if there is a death or injury in a pool, legal liability may fall on the person responsible for the pool at the time - even if a safety fence is installed.

Early in 2013, the NSW government introduced new laws affecting swimming pools which emphasise owners' responsibilities and improve safety. The new laws resulted in a number of changes to the Swimming Pools Act including the creation of a state-wide web based swimming pool register, increasing the roles and responsibilities of Council in relation to swimming pool inspections and the issue of Compliance Certificates.

Owners of swimming pools and spas must register their details on the NSW government swimming pool register. Swimming pool registration is free. Please note that there are provisions in the legislation to fine owners who fail to register their swimming pool by 29 October 2013. (Penalty Notice of $220).

Swimming Pool Inspection Program

Council's Swimming Pool Inspection Program was adopted by Council in October 2013.

  1. A Council inspection is required, at least once every 3 years, of any tourist and visitor accommodation or more than 2 dwellings swimming pool situated.
  2. The inspection of a swimming pool in paragraph (1), above, may be not be required if it has a current valid certificate of compliance (valid for 3 years from the date of issue);
  3. Council may carry out an inspections where the owner requests an inspection;
  4. Council must carry out an inspection of a swimming pool if the request to Council is anapplication for a Compliance Certificate is required to enable the sale or lease of the premises (within 10 business days).
  5. Council must determine applications for Swimming Pool Compliance Certificates which will be compulsory from April 201 2016 for all pools associated with property for sale and lease.
  6. Council must investigate a complaint made to it in writing that alleges a contravention of the Swimming Pools Act 1992.

Summary of new swimming pool laws 2013

The NSW government has introduced new pool safety compliance laws, aimed at reducing the incidence of children drowning in backyard pools.

As a pool owner, you are responsible for ensuring your pool is enclosed and access to it is restricted to children at all times. You are also responsible for ensuring it is maintained and that it complies with relevant Australian standards and laws.

The purpose of the new legislation is to emphasise the owner's responsibility to provide a safety barrier, adequate supervision of children and promote the need for regular checks and maintenance of pool safety barriers such as fencing.

Overview of the Swimming Pool Act

Swimming pool owners in New South Wales are required to register their pools online in a state wide Swimming Pool Register by 29 October 2013. You can register online your pool here.

Swimming pool owners will be required to self-assess and state in the register that, to the best of their knowledge, their pool complies with the applicable standard.

There is a penalty of $220 for owners who fail to register a swimming pool.

Swimming pool owners will be required to provide a valid swimming pool compliance certificate before selling or leasing a property with a pool.

For further detailed information regarding recent legislative changes and requirements refer to the Office of Local Government Registering your pool or spa bath.

Ensure your pool complies

The NSW government swimming pool register contains a safety checklist that has been developed to assist you with your self-check. There are different checklists that apply to the pool at the time it was constructed, alternatively it is recommended that you upgrade the fence to comply with the current Australian standards.

Swimming pool safety fencing requirements

Yes! (in most cases)

Under the Swimming Pools Act 1992 the owner of a swimming pool has the responsibility to ensure that the pool is at all times surrounded by a complying child-resistant pool safety barrier.

Pool safety barriers must be maintained in a good state of repair, as an effective and safe barrier restricting access to the pool.

Any swimming pool capable of being filled with water to a depth 300mm or more must have a swimming pool fence.

Yes! (in most cases)

You must have building approval for the construction or erection of any swimming pool/spa capable of containing 2000 litres of water or more - this can be gained from Council.

To investigate whether your pool may be installed as exempt development, follow the links below. Providing your project meets the specific development standards outlined in the policy, approval from Council is not required.

The Electronic Housing Code (EHC) is a free online system that allows users to determine whether proposed works fall under exempt or complying development.

State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008