Types of development

The size and scale of your development proposal will determine which of the development assessment pathways is appropriate for you.

Exempt development

Some minor building renovations or work don't need any planning or building approval. This is called exempt development.

Exempt development is very low impact development that can be done for certain residential, commercial and industrial properties.

As long as the proposed works meet all of the development standards (identified in the State Policy for exempt and complying development or the State Policy for infrastructure), approval may not be needed.

Read more about exempt development on the NSW Planning Portal.

A few examples of development that can be exempt development under the State Policy are:

  • decks
  • garden sheds
  • carports
  • fences
  • repairing a window
  • painting a house.

Exempt development may also be considered under State Policy for Infrastructure. This must be carried out by or on behalf of a public authority and meet the relevant development standards. Examples include:

  • access ramps for people with a disability
  • air conditioning units
  • awnings
  • pergolas
  • external and internal building alterations
  • car park
  • signs.

The majority of exempt and complying development types and their development standards are found in the State Policy for exempt and complying development. You can view the policy on the NSW Legislation website:

Complying development

Fast-tracked approval for straightforward development for homes, business and industry.

Complying development is a fast-track combined planning and construction approval for straightforward development.

As long as the proposed works meet all of the development standards (identified in the State Policy for exempt and complying development), approval can be determined by Council or an accredited certifier without needing a full development application.

Need a certifier? We provide a competitive certification service for complying developments.

Read more about complying development on the NSW Planning Portal.

Complying development applies to homes, businesses and industry. A few examples of development that can be complying development under the State Policy are:

  • home renovations
  • building a new home up to 2 storeys
  • home business
  • strata subdivision
  • change of use of an existing shop, office or warehouse
  • industrial buildings
  • demolition of a building.

Approvals under the fast-track complying development pathway can be issued in as little as 20 days. Homeowners can save up to $15,000 when building a house under complying development, with savings up to $2,600 for renovations.

Complying development applications can be lodged directly to Council. Your development will be subject to conditions of approval to protect surrounding uses during the construction period and life of the development.

Please contact us if you require assistance determining if your proposal is complying development.

The majority of complying development types and their development standards are found in the State Policy for exempt and complying development. You can view the State Policy on the NSW Legislation website:

Local development

The most common type of development in NSW - projects range 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 and
  • it is not considered to be either Regionally or State significant development.

Any development under the Port Stephens Local Environment Plan 2013 requires consent prior to undertaking works and must be lodged with Council.

Integrated development

Some development applications require approval (such as a permit or license) from a NSW Government agency before a determination can be made by Council. These are called integrated development.

Integrated development applications require an approval listed in Section 4.46 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act).

For example, this may include:

  • an aquaculture permit
  • mining lease
  • pollution licence
  • Aboriginal heritage impact permit
  • works on bushfire prone land
  • works within a public road reserve.

Council must refer an integrated development application to the relevant approval body. If appropriate, it will issue general terms of approval. Council would not normally determine the application until it has received the concurrence with the general terms of approval.

Read more about integrated development on the NSW Planning Portal.

In addition to the normal development application fees, an integrated development administration fee is required for each agency of $320 or $340 as well as an administration fee of $140 payable to Council for each referral to an approval body.

Cheques for each agency should be made payable to the relevant approval body and not to Port Stephens Council.

Designated development

Developments that are high-impact or located in or near environmentally sensitive areas.

Designated developments are high-impact developments (for example, likely to generate pollution) or are located in or near an environmentally sensitive area (such as a wetland). There are 2 ways a development can be categorised as designated development:

  • the class of development can be listed in Schedule 3 of 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
  • mining operations
  • aircraft facilities
  • sewerage treatment works
  • waste management facilities.

For the Regulation’s full list of designated developments, read Schedule 3 of the EP&A Regulation.

Designated developments require a greater level of detail. If a DA is categorised as designated development, the application:

  • must be accompanied by an environmental impact statement (EIS)
  • will require public notification for at least 28 days
  • can be the subject of a merits appeal to the Land and Environment Court by objectors.

The Hunter and Central Coast Joint Regional Planning Panel is the determining authority for certain designated development types however Council plays an important role in the assessment of such applications.

Read more on the NSW Department of Planning website.

An additional fee of $920 applies to designated development on top of the standard development application fee.

State significant development

Some types of development are deemed to have State significance due to the size, economic value or potential impacts that a development may have. These form a very small portion of developments.

State significant developments are identified in the State and Regional Development SEPP. The Minster for Planning is the consent authority.

We will keep a record of the application and determination in our records and may display a copy of the application in the Administration Building during the exhibition period.

Read more about State significant development on the NSW Planning Portal.