This page outlines the major steps of the complying development process. It also provides guidance to help you determine if you could carry out your building work as complying development.
What complying development means
Complying development is a fast-track approval process for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial development. The approval is in the form of a Complying Development Certificate (CDC). If your proposal meets certain development standards, a Principal Certifier can assess and determine it without needing a full Development Application (DA). Your proposal should also comply with the National Construction Code (NCC) and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
You can't do complying development on all land. You'll need to find out if your property meets the land-based requirements in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008. You can do this by applying for a Section 10.7 planning certificate. The planning certificate will state whether complying development is possible on your site.
You will need a CDC before you start any demolition, excavation or building work.
Complying development examples
- demolition of certain buildings
- construction of a swimming pool and spa
- construction of a new dwelling
- construction of a secondary dwelling
- carports, garages and car spaces
- shade structures, awnings and pergolas
- alterations and additions to an existing dwelling
- street awnings
- fences and retaining walls
- temporary structures and marquees
- certain changes of use
- business signs
- internal alterations (fit-outs) of commercial buildings
- fit-out of a food shop.
Appoint a Principal Certifier
A Principal Certifier (registered building surveyor) can issue Complying Development Certificates (CDCs).
If you are doing complying development work, you'll need to find and appoint a Principal Certifier.
Complying development process
Our flowchart shows the major steps in the CDC process:
You can also follow these steps which explain the stages your CDC will go through, from pre-application to occupation of the building:
Complying development is specific, small-scale, low-impact development. This type of development complies with set criteria in a State Environmental Planning Policy (SEP) or Local Environmental Plan (LEP). You'll need to research whether your proposed development complies with these requirements. If you determine it doesn't meet the criteria, you will have to to submit a DA and Construction Certificate (CC).
A Principal Certifier (PC) can only issue a CDC if the proposed development complies with:
- specific requirements and criteria for complying development outlined in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP)
- the National Construction Code
- Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
You may also need separate approvals or permits for certain parts of your development or activities before you apply for a CDC (see Step 2 - separate approvals or permits).
Section 10.7 planning certificate
We recommend you apply for a Section 10.7 planning certificate at this stage of the process. A planning certificate will answer many questions up front. These include whether your property is on bushfire-prone land or a flood control lot. This will save you time when preparing your CDC application.
Complying development and land types
You can't do complying development on all types of land, including:
- environmentally sensitive land
- bushfire-prone land with a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) 40 or BAL FZ (flame zone) rating
- land containing a heritage item
- foreshore areas.
You can do complying development on some bushfire-prone land, ie, low-risk bushfire-prone land. To check whether your property is on bushfire-prone land, use our land-mapping tool or apply for a Section 10.7 planning certificate.
If you can carry out complying development on low-risk bushfire-prone land, you'll need a BAL Certificate (see Step 2 - separate approvals or permits). This certificate will assess your risk of bushfire.
You may need separate approvals or permits for certain parts of your development or activities before you apply for a CDC. These include:
- Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Certificate: Required if your proposed development is within a bushfire-prone area. You can find out if it is on the NSW Planning Portal. Council or a qualified bushfire consultant recognised by the NSW RFS can provide a BAL Certificate. You'll need to submit this certificate with your CDC application.
- Flood Certificate: Required for complying development work if your property is on flood-prone land. You can check if it is on the NSW Planning Portal.
- Consent for removing/pruning trees: Only necessary if consent is required.
- Section 138 approval (Roads Act 1993): Required for any works within the road reserve. This includes building any kerb, crossover or driveway.
- Section 68 activities approval (Local Government Act 1993): Required for any water, sewer or stormwater works, on-site sewage management system (OSSM) or meter connection.
You may also need to apply for a BASIX Certificate.
Applications for separate approvals or permits you may need
- Application for a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Certificate (931.2 KB)
- Application to Remove or Prune Trees (1.1 MB)
- Application for Approval Under Section 138 Roads Act 1993 (592.3 KB)
- Activities Approval Application Under Section 68 Local Government Act 1993 (1.2 MB)
- Activities Approval Checklist for Sewer, Water and Stormwater (4.2 MB)
You will need to prepare various documents and information to submit with your CDC application. This includes:
- details of the work proposed
- plans and specifications (by a building designer and/or professional engineer): plans detailing the work proposed, including a site plan, elevations, floor plans, parking arrangements, loading facilities, ground levels that need modification and drainage information
- demolition plan (where applicable)
- existing and proposed fire safety measures (for change of use of a commercial building)
- owner's consent form
- contract for certification work
- BASIX certificate, if required
- any other separate permits or approvals required (see Step 2 - separate approvals or permits).
Submit your CDC application
Once you've prepared the necessary documents, you're ready to submit these with your CDC application on the NSW Planning Portal.
Resources to help you submit your CDC application
The Department of Planning and Environment has a range of resources to help you submit your CDC application on the Planning Portal:
In some cases, your Principal Certifier may need to notify neighbours of adjoining or nearby properties of your proposed development. This encourages neighbours to engage with each other and resolve any concerns raised.
It's a good idea to talk with your neighbours as soon as possible before you submit your application.
Your neighbours can't object to a complying development proposal. This is because it meets the minimum impact criteria on surrounding properties.
Neighbours can request to see the plans of your development, but you do not have to provide these.
Once you receive your CDC, you must notify neighbours within 20 metres from the boundary of your development before you start any work. This is called pre-construction notification. This notice is for your neighbours' information only.
It is your responsibility to notify your neighbours (in writing), at least two days before any work starts.
Once you submit your CDC application, it will go through an initial review. Your Principal Certifier (PC) will then carry out a site inspection before they make an assessment.
Your PC will check that your application complies with:
- the National Construction Code
- BASIX requirements
- other complying development submission requirements.
Your PC will also ensure it is consistent with appropriate complying development controls, and the site conditions (site inspection).
Before your Principal Certifier issues the CDC, you will need to provide them with:
- The builder's name, address and NSW licence number for all residential work over $10,000.
Home Building Compensation Fund
- All residential work over $20,000 must have a certificate of insurance under the Home Building Compensation Fund. Certificates should show the correct property details and include all work covered under the building contract, eg, dwelling and swimming pool.
- Insurance under the Home Building Compensation Fund allows you to make a claim for a loss (eg, financial loss or damage) caused by the contractor.
- If your residential building work is over $10,000 and you choose to complete the work as an owner-builder, you'll need an Owner-Builder Permit from NSW Fair Trading.
- If your building work is over $20,000, you also need to complete certain units of competency or have the approved equivalent qualifications and experience.
Section 7.11 (Section 94) and 64 contributions
- Development contributions are payments made by developers to Council for the provision of public infrastructure. These contributions allow us to provide public amenities and services for the new development. These can include shared pathways, libraries or roads.
Long service levy
- The NSW Government has put a levy on all building and construction work valued at $250,000 or more (incl. GST). This levy rate is 0.25% of the total cost of the work.
- You'll need to pay the levy online to the Long Service Corporation at the time you submit your CDC application.
If the Principal Certifier (PC) approves your application, the PC will issue you with:
- a formal determination (consent) and CDC with the stamped approved plans and specifications
- the conditions of consent
- details of the critical stage inspections required.
A CDC lapses after five years, unless physical work has started, or where you have acted upon the approved use.
Before any building work starts, you will need to:
- ensure you have a CDC and follow all relevant conditions
- tell your Principal Certifier (PC) that you intend to start building works at least 2 days before
- tell your neighbours at least two days before your building work starts
- get all relevant approvals and permits required (see Step 2 - separate approvals or permits)
- make sure all environmental controls are in place eg, sediment fence, hoardings, dust control
- ensure the construction site has the required signage. This includes the builder and principal certifier's details
- ensure there are provisions for construction waste.
Your PC will tell you when and how to book your critical stage inspections. Inspections required generally include piers, slabs, frames, stormwater and wet areas.
Our inspector will need to carry out all plumbing inspections. This includes the final plumbing and drainage inspection.
You will need to get an Occupation Certificate (OC) before you occupy or use any part of the building (if change of use). The OC authorises the occupation and use of a new building or building section in line with the:
- relevant National Construction Code (NCC) classification: the NCC sets the standards for the design and construction of different classes of buildings
- development consent conditions.
There are two types of OCs:
- OC: Allows you to use a new building (including alterations/extensions) or an existing building resulting from a change in its use.
- Partial OC: Allows you to occupy or use a partially completed building, or a new use of part of an existing building resulting from a change of use of the building. If your PC issues a partial OC, you'll still need an OC when all building work or the change of use is complete. An OC revokes any previous OC.
You do not need an OC if you're carrying out exempt development.
Before your Principal Certifier (PC) issues the OC, they will consider the:
- structural adequacy
- fire safety
- the health, safety and amenity of future occupants of the building.
Your PC must also ensure that you've complied with any relevant development consent conditions and other regulatory requirements.
Your PC cannot issue an OC until all critical stage inspections have occurred. This includes the final building and plumbing and drainage inspection.
Council will need to carry out all plumbing inspections.
Please note that it is an offence to occupy (or use) a building without an OC.
Submit your Occupation Certificate application
You're now ready to apply for an Occupation Certificate on the NSW Planning Portal.
Your PC will review your application and notify you of the outcome.
Occupy or use your building
Once your PC issues the OC, you can occupy or use your building (change of use).
- NSW Department of Planning and Environment: Complying development pathway fact sheets
- NSW Planning Portal: Guide to complying development
We can help you
For more information, contact our Development Help Desk:
- T: 02 4474 1231
- E: Council's Development Help Desk