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DA advice

Council's development advice aims to provide answers to many frequently asked questions about development in the Port Stephens Local Government Area and aims to help you get started on your development.

Balconies, decks and patios

Certain types of development, may be undertaken as exempt development (does not need approval) or complying development (fast-track approval process) if the proposal meets relevant standards set out in in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008

Balconies, decks, patios, pergolas, terraces and verandas are grouped together and are subject to development standards under the Exempt Code. Small scale developments of this nature do not require development approval for the construction or installation if the development standards are met.

Development types: Balconies, decks, patios, pergolas, terraces and verandahs

  • Site requirements:
    • Not constructed or installed on or in a heritage item or a draft heritage item, and/or
    • on land in a foreshore area.
  • Development requirements:
    • Be an area of not more than 25m2; and
    • not cause the total floor area of all such structures on the lot to be more than, for a lot larger than 300m2 – 15% of the ground floor area of the dwelling on the lot, or for a lot 300m2 or less – 25m2; and
    • not have an enclosing wall higher than 1.4m, is to be located being the building line of any road frontage; and
    • to be located from each lot boundary of at least, development in RU1, RU2, RU3, R5 – 5m, or other zones – 900mm; and
    • have a floor height not more than 1m above the existing ground level, if it’s to be a roofed structure attached to a dwelling it is not to extend above the roof gutter line of the dwelling; and
    • be no higher than 3m at its highest point above ground level (existing).

Additional design and construction details can be found on under Subdivision 6 of the NSW State Environmental Policy and need to comply with general and land based criteria for exempt development.

If you do not meet the exempt provisions, ancillary development such as verandahs and patios are permitted with consent under most zones in Port Stephens, when in conjunction with a residential development. The Port Stephens Development Control Plan chapter C4 (dwelling house, secondary dwelling, dual occupancy or ancillary structures) set out guidelines for this type of development. The next step would be to lodge a Development Application.

Please note: Council cannot advise whether or not you are classified as exempt development. This is something you have to be satisfied as the property owner.

Change of use

Certain development types may be undertaken as exempt development (does not need approval) or complying development (fast-tracked approval process) if it meets relevant standards set out in the State Environmental Planning Policy (exempt and complying development codes) 2008. Additional development standards can be found on NSW Legislation under Subdivision 10A and needs to comply with the general and land based criteria for exempt development.

A Complying Development Certificate may be issued for a change of use of an existing building or the initial use of a new building if the proposal meets the relevant development standards. See Part 5 Commercial and Industrial Alterations Code, Subdivision 2 Change of Use Premises and Schedule 8.

Council may grant development consent for change of use or initial use if the proposal meets the relevant planning controls. You can view the planning controls for dwellings and ancillary development in Port Stephens Local Environmental Plan 2013 and Port Stephens Development Control Plan 2014.

View the development application process for assistance in completing your development application.

Dual occupancy

Dual occupancies can be subdivided where the resulting allotments meet the minimum lot sizes for the zone under the Local Environmental Plan 2013.

Under the Local Environmental Plan Clause 4.1C there are exceptions to minimum lot sizes for certain developments. Applicable to the zones listed in the clause are requirements for where development consent can be grated for the subdivision of a lot if there is a dual occupancy located on the parent lot being subdivided.

Dwelling house

Depending on the type of development proposal, you may not need approval. Many types of home renovations and minor building projects don't need approval from council or an accredited certifier. If the building project meets specific standards and land requirements, no planning or building approval is needed.

Dwelling means a room or suite of rooms occupied or used or so constructed or adapted as to be capable of being occupied or used as a separate domicile.

Dwelling house means a building containing only one dwelling.

Complying development

Some new detached dwelling houses can be designed to meet the criteria for complying development listed in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008. If your dwelling meets all of the complying criteria, you will need to obtain a complying development certificate prior to commencing work.

Development Application  

Many new dwellings houses will not meet all of the nominated complying criteria, and you will need to lodge a development application with Council. If you receive development approval for your dwelling, you will also need to obtain a Construction certificate prior to commencing building works.

A Development Application for a Dwelling House will need to respond the legislation and technical requirements outlined in the PSLEP and the Development Control Plan (DCP)

Under Chapter C4 (Dwelling Houses, Secondary Dwelling, Dual Occupancy or Ancillary Structures) of the Development Control Plan there are design requirements that dwellings houses are to meet in terms of design, layout, siting and private open space requirements.

You will need a BASIX certificate if you are lodging a development application in NSW for a new home or for any alteration and addition of $50,000 or more to an existing home.

Home Business

Under the Port Stephens Local Environmental Plan 2013 (LEP) the definition of a home business is:

  • a business that is carried on in a dwelling, or in a building ancillary to a dwelling, by one or more permanent residents of the dwelling and that does not involve:
    • the employment of more than 2 persons other than those residents, or
    • interference with the amenity of the neighborhood by reason of the emission of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, vapor, steam, soot, ash, dust, waste water, waste products, grit or oil, traffic generation or otherwise, or
    • the exposure to view, from any adjacent premises or from any public place, of any unsightly matter, or
    • the exhibition of any signage (other than a business identification sign), or
    • the sale of items (whether goods or materials), or the exposure or offer for sale of items, by retail, except for goods produced at the dwelling or building, but does not include bed and breakfast accommodation, home occupation (sex services) or sex services premises.

If you meet the above definition then the development must also meet clause 5.4 of the Port Stephens Local Environmental Plan 2013, which states:

  • Home businesses:
    • if development for the purposes of a home business is permitted under this Plan, the carrying on of the business must not involve the use of more than 50 square meters of floor area.

Certain business and commercial enterprises may be undertaken as exempt development (does not need approval) or complying development (fast-track approval process) if the proposal meets relevant standards set out in in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

Please note: Council cannot advise whether or not you are classified as exempt development. This is something you have to be satisfied as the property/business owner.

For further information see the Planning Portal NSW

If you don't meet the exempt provisions, generally home business is permitted with consent under most zones in Port Stephens. The Port Stephens Development Control Plan chapter C6 (Home Business or Home Industry) sets out the guidelines for this type of development. Then the next step would be lodging a Development Application. Council is not required to notify or advertise for home business applications.

For further information regarding hairdressing and beauty salons see:

For further information regarding food and drink preparation premises see:

Secondary dwelling / Granny flat

A secondary dwelling is defined as a self-contained dwelling, they are to be established in conjunction and be located on the same lot as the principal dwelling.

Secondary dwellings require approval before construction can start. Approval can be obtained through either complying development or a development application.

Complying development

Secondary dwellings can be approved as complying development, which is the fast track application process. Specific development standards under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental housing) 2009. The specific standards are to be complied with to permit a complying development process. Certification of complying development can be obtained by either a Private Certifying or through Council.

Development Application

If the requirements under the complying development cannot be met then a development application is to be lodged with Council.

Secondary dwellings are permissible under the Port Stephens Local Environmental Plan 2013 (PSLEP) in the following zones:

  • R1 General Residential
  • R2 Low Density Residential
  • R3 Medium Density Residential; and
  • R5 Large Lot Residential.

The PSLEP outlines size requirements for secondary dwelling that are not to exceed. The total floor area (excluding parking) does not exceed whichever of the following is greater:

  1. 60m2
  2. 40% of the total flood area of the principle dwelling.

Applications lodged are to address and consider the requirements of the Local Environmental Plan and the Development Control Plan, a BASIX certificate is not required.

Development contributions apply to secondary dwellings and have a lower development contribution rate to dual occupancy development.

Sheds and carports

Certain types of development, may be undertaken as exempt development (does not need approval) or complying development (fast-track approval process). These proposals need to meet relevant standards set out in in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

Development type: cabanas, cubby houses, ferneries, garden sheds, gazebos and greenhouses

  • Site requirements:
    • not constructed or installed on or in a heritage item or a draft heritage item
    • on land in a foreshore area
    • in an environmentally sensitive area
  • Development requirements:
    • not have a floor area of more than 50m2 in a rural zone or R5 zone and is setback 5m from each lot boundary; or
    • in any other zone, a maximum floor area of 20m2 and setback 900mm for each lot boundary; and
    • be no higher than 3m above existing ground level; and
    • be located behind the building line of any road frontage (except on land in a rural zone).

Additional design and construction details can be found on the NSW Legislation, under Subdivision 9 and need to comply with general and land based criteria for exempt development.

Development type: carport

  • Site requirements:
    • not constructed or installed on or in a heritage item or a draft heritage item.
  • Development requirements:
    • for a lot 300m2 or less, in any zone, have a floor area no more than 20m2; or
    • for a lot larger than 300m2 in a rural or R5 zone, not have a floor area more than 50m2; or
    • for a lot larger than 300m2, in a zone other than rural or R5 zone, not have a floor area more than 25m2; and
    • not be higher than 3m above ground level (existing) or, if attached to an existing single storey dwelling, be no higher than the roof gutter line; and
    • be located at least 1m behind the building line of any road frontage; and
    • setback 5m from each lot boundary in a rural or R5 zone; or
    • setback 900mm from each lot boundary in any other zone.

Additional design and construction details can be found on the NSW Legislation, under Subdivision 9 and need to comply with general and land based criteria for exempt development.

Signage

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008, Division 2 -  Advertising and Signage Exempt Development Codes, provides development standards that, if satisfied, allows certain types of signage to be erected as exempt development and therefore would not require consent from Council. View the relevant section of the SEPP (Exempt and Complying Development) 2008.

Council cannot advise whether or not your development proposal is considered exempt development. It is up to the individual to assess their proposal against the Exempt and Complying Development Codes to determine whether or not they are exempt to the requirements. Should the individual be satisfied that the exempt provisions are met, they may proceed with the signage, with no further consent from Council required.

If you do not meet the exempt provisions under the SEPP (Exempt and Complying Codes) 2008, you will require development consent from Council. Schedule 1 of State Environmental Planning Policy No. 64 – Advertising and Signage outlines assessment criteria for signage.

The following should be included in your development application:

  • Development and Construction Certificate Application including:
    • correct property address
    • owners consent
  • Site plan - a birds eye view of the site including:
    • neighbouring property boundaries
    • location of the signage on the site plan if appropriate
  • Signage plans - should demonstrate colour, size and dimensions and content. If the proposal includes a pylon sign, signage elevations should also be included in plans.
  • Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) should include:

See Development Applications for more information on Councils applications process.

Subdivision

Subdivision of land is the process that creates new lots of land or changes the size of the existing lot or the location of the property boundaries. This process creates a new title for each new lot that can then be registered with NSW Land Registry Services.

Subdivision can mean the following:

Torrens title

  • Subdivisions involves the creation of new allotments from an existing allotment, including:
    • boundary adjustments - realignment of a lot boundary;
    • site consolidations - amalgamation of two or more lots into one lot; and
    • the subdividing of an existing lot into two or more lots.

Community title

  • Involves the subdivision of land so that each resultant lot has a separate title but also shares a common piece of land such as a pool, BBQ area, driveway, garden etc. The community plan associated with the subdivisions may also outline a number of development guidelines for the subdivisions design and construction.

Strata title

  • Gives ownership to individual portions of a larger property and a share of common property such as gardens and driveways. Owners become members of the body corporate and may share responsibility for the whole property.
  • Strata subdivision is most commonly used with dual occupancies, multiple dwelling development, apartment buildings and commercial and industrial buildings.

Stratum subdivision

  • Is the horizontal subdivision of sections of a building into separate titles.
  • An example is the subdivision of a ground floor retail or commercial area from the above residential floors.

As most subdivisions of land are carried out under Torrens Title subdivision, the below information relates to Torrens Title subdivision only.

Most subdivisions require development consent. For some minor boundary adjustments, consent may not be required if it meets the criteria contained in State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Code) 2008 (Codes SEPP). If the proposal doesn't qualify as exempt development and is a strata subdivision, you may be able to apply for a Complying Development Certificate if it meets the relevant development standards. You can find the relevant standards in the NSW complying development code for subdivisions.

Prior to lodging a development application (DA) with Council, you need to review planning policies that apply to your land, such as the Port Stephens Local Environmental Plan 2013, Port Stephens Development Control Plan 2014 and the NSW Biodiversity Reforms in order to prepare your plans and supporting documentation.

See Development Application process for more information.

See the Port Stephens Local Environment Plan 2013 for information on the minimum lot size maps.

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