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Before you undertake any development or building works, you will need to determine if you need approval from Council. The type of consent or approval you require, if any, depends upon the scale and potential impacts of your development on adjoining properties. There are three assessment pathways that may apply to residential or commercial development as outlined below.

Assessment Pathway

Exempt DevelopmentComplying DevelopmentDevelopment Consent
Level of approvalNo approval from CouncilApproval by issue of complying development certificate by certifier (either accredited certifier or Council)Council development consent through the development application (DA) process
Potential impact Minimal environmental / amenity impactPredictable environmental / amenity impact Could be major environmental / amenity impact
Level of assessment Must comply with pre-set legislative standardsMust comply with pre-set legislative standards and conditionsMerit-based assessment

Exempt development is minor development that will have minimal impact on the site and surrounding neighbours or locality. It does not require any consent or approval, provided it meets the standards contained under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008

Examples of exempt development include decks, garden sheds, carports, fences, repair of a window or painting a house.

Complying development is a fast track and cost-effective approval process for residential, commercial and industrial development provided it meets the standards contained under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

Categories of development under the SEPP include:

  • General housing
  • Rural housing
  • Low rise medium density housing (including one and two storey dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces)
  • Greenfield Housing
  • Commercial and industrial alterations and new buildings
  • Subdivision
  • Container recycling facilities
  • Demolition
  • Fire safety

Complying development certificates can be granted by Council or an accredited certifier.

A Development Application (DA) is a formal application for development that requires assessment and development consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The DA shall be submitted to your local Council with the required application form and supporting documentation, which can be found on the development application process page.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has also released a guide to help explain the process and assists you in preparing and lodging a DA, as well as explaining the next steps to get you building.

Assistance and information

If you need assistance with your assessment pathway, contact our Customer Relations Team on 4988 0255 from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm, or email us at council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au

For questions on exempt and complying development, visit the NSW Planning Portal, phone NSW Planning and Environment on 1300 305 695 or visit www.planning.nsw.gov.au