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Complying development

Development Assessment

Complying Development

Complying development is a fast-track approval process for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial development. If the application meets specific criteria, it can be determined by an accredited certifying organisation.

Defining complying development

Complying development is a fast-track approval process for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial development. Complying development generally includes larger building works than exempt development. For this reason, ‘sign off’ by a building professional (known as a certifying authority) is needed. Provided the proposal fully meets specific development standards, it can be determined by a Council or accredited certifier without the need for a full development application.

Complying development is also subject to conditions of approval to protect surrounding uses during the construction period and the life of the complying development.

Complying development generally includes larger building works than exempt development. For this reason, ‘sign off’ by a building professional (known as a certifying authority) is needed. Complying development is also subject to conditions of approval to protect surrounding uses during the construction period and the life of the complying development.

Examples of complying development include: 

  • building a one and two storey home
  • building a granny flat or secondary dwelling
  • building earthworks and structural supports
  • building a fence
  • building a swimming pool
  • building waterway structures
  • carrying out a strata subdivision
  • demolishing a building
  • establishing a home-based enterprise
  • removing and pruning a tree
  • renovating a home
  • temporary uses and structures
  • works to improve fire safety.

If your renovation or build is complying development (or requires a development application through council) you'll need to apply for a BASIX certificate. Read more about BASIX certificates.

How to apply online

  • Contact your council about applying for a CDC and which documents you will need. For more information read our pre-application document checklist.
  • Register for a NSW Planning Portal account to start your application.
  • Log in to complete the online application. You will need to submit a certificate of title, site plan, design plans, structural plans and building specifications and any other documents the council or certifier requires.

If the Online CDC application service is not yet available in your area, you can apply directly to your local council or search for an accredited certifier on the Building Professionals Board’s Register.

More information

For more information about the Online CDC service, you can view and download the information sheet here.

Relevant legislation

General exclusions

Complying development cannot be usually carried out on:

  • Land which contains critical habitat
  • Land which contains a heritage item which is on the State Heritage Register or subject to an Interim Heritage Order or a heritage item identified by an environmental planning instrument, such as a council’s LEP.
  • Land which is classified as a Class 1 or 2 acid sulfate soil
  • Land which contain environmental sensitive areas
  • Land which contain environmental hazardous areas

For a full list of specific land exemptions for complying development, please refer to clause 1.19 of the Codes SEPP.

How do I know if I qualify for Complying Development? 

Councils in NSW can issue a planning certificate (Section 10.7 (2) and (5) certificate) to show whether complying development under the Codes SEPP can be carried out on a particular lot of land. This is the easiest way to find out whether the Codes SEPP can be used on your land. It is recommended that applicants obtain the full Section 10.7 (2) and (5) certificate. This will provide a comprehensive list of planning matters and constraints affecting the subject lot.

A certificate of title that indicates the size of the lot and any easements or notations that may affect the lot. A certificate of title is available from www.lpma.nsw. gov.au.

A survey plan prepared by a registered surveyor is also useful. Make sure the surveyor includes the location of houses on adjoining lots, contours and plenty of existing ground levels around where you propose your new development as this will be useful in determining setbacks and building heights.

Lodging a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) application

It is recommended that you talk to your local council or a private accredited certifier before you finalise your plans. They can provide guidance to ensure that you meet the relevant requirements and development standards.

An application for a CDC can be lodged with either a local council or a private accredited certifier. A CDC must be issued by the certifying authority prior to building work commencing. The Building Professionals Board is an independent NSW Government authority which is responsible for overseeing building and subdivision certification in NSW.

The Board accredits and regulates certifiers in NSW, to ensure the integrity of the certification system and compliance of the built environment with legislative requirements.

A new Online CDC application service for some residential development types has been released through the NSW Planning Portal. The service is available in a limited number of council areas and will be expanded to include more certifying organisations through-out 2019.

Building works can cause disruption, but talking through your designs and likely timeframes with neighbours will usually help alleviate concerns before the work begins. We recommend talking to your neighbours before receiving an approval and again before you commence construction.

The Online CDC service is available in the following local council areas:

  • Armidale Regional Council
  • Bathurst Regional Council
  • Camden Council
  • Cessnock City Council
  • City of Canterbury Bankstown
  • Clarence Valley 
  • Coffs Harbour City Council
  • Georges River Council
  • Inner West Council
  • Lake Macquarie City Council
  • Liverpool City Council
  • Moore Plains Shire Council
  • Penrith City Council
  • Sutherland Shire Council
  • Tenterfield Shire Council

Fire safety, Cladding and complying development

Fire safety is an important matter which must be considered when carrying out alterations or additions to existing buildings. Fire safety considerations may impact whether your development can qualify for complying development. 

Specific requirements apply when carrying out a complying development on existing Class 1b and 9 buildings. This includes all buildings other than a detached house or outbuilding.

More information about fire safety requirements for alterations of use to existing commercial and industrial buildings built before 1 January 1993 is available in the Department’s Fire Safety Technical Guideline for Complying Development-December 2014.

Combustible Cladding

Following the tragic fire at the Grenfell Tower in London in 2017 and the fire at the Lacrosse Building in Melbourne in 2014, new laws have been made for buildings with combustible cladding. The laws are part of a whole-of-government response to the fire safety risks posed by external combustible cladding.

These laws are the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Identification of Buildings with Combustible Cladding) Regulation 2018  and State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment (Exempt Development – Cladding and Decorative Work) 2018. They commence on 22 October 2018.

Under the Regulation, owners of certain buildings with external combustible cladding are required to register their building with the NSW Government through a simple, user-friendly online portal. For buildings occupied before 22 October 2018, the deadline for registration is 22 February 2019. Owners of new buildings will be required to register their building within four months of the building first being occupied.

Building types

The Regulation applies to the following building types (both new and existing buildings) of two or more storeys:

  • Residential apartment buildings
  • Other types of residential buildings where unrelated people sleep. For example, hotels, boarding houses, backpackers, student accommodation
  • Aged-care buildings; hospitals and day surgeries (and any associated single dwellings within the building)
  • Public assembly buildings. For example, theatres, cinemas, schools and churches (and any associated single dwellings within the building).

Cladding types

The Regulation applies if any of the above buildings have external combustible cladding made of the following materials:

  • metal composite panels, including products that consist of aluminium, zinc, or copper outer layers and a core material; or
  • insulated cladding systems including systems comprised of polystyrene, polyurethane, and polyisocyanurate.

There are also new provisions in the Regulation that require referral of certain 'alternative solutions' (under the Building Code of Australia) involving external combustible cladding to Fire and Rescue NSW.

How to register your building

  • Visit the Cladding Registration website
  • Register for an account to start your registration for combustible cladding
  • Log in to complete the online form.

Other considerations

  • Complying development does not override private covenants or similar legal instruments. For example, a covenant that requires a specific construction material or limits building heights continue to apply to the land.
  • All works must be structurally adequate, installed in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications and comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
  • If you propose to remove or prune any existing trees or vegetation, you should contact your council first to make sure you don’t need approval for this.
  • Buildings constructed before 1987 may contain asbestos.  If you are unsure, you should have the building assessed by a qualified professional before carrying out any renovation or maintenance work.  Visit asbestosawareness.com.au or call 1800 Asbestos (1800 272 378) or read the NSW Government Asbestos Fact Sheet for more information.
  • Any structures that would be located on public land, or on or over a public road (including temporary structures), must have separate approval from the relevant council or Roads and Maritime Services under the Roads Act 1993 and the Local Government Act 1993.
  • You can carry out complying development on bushfire prone land, subject to the requirements of the relevant Code (clause 3.4 sets out the bushfire prone land requirements under the Housing Code).
  • You can carry out complying development on flood prone lots, subject to the requirements of the relevant Code (clause 3.5 sets out development standards for flood control lot under the Housing Code).

General requirements for complying development

  • Generally, complying development cannot be carried out on:
    • land within a heritage conservation area, or a draft heritage conservation area (there are some exceptions, please check the relevant development standards for more information.)
    • land reserved for a public purpose
    • class 1 or 2 land on council’s acid sulphate soils map
    • land in a buffer area
    • land in a river front area
    • land in an ecologically sensitive area
    • land in a protected area
    • land affected by a coastline hazard, coastal hazard or coastal erosion hazard
    • land in a foreshore area
    • land in the 25 Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) System counter or a higher ANEF counter
    • unsewered land in a drinking water catchment identified in an environmental planning instruments
    • land declared as a special area

For a full list of the general requirements for complying development, please refer to clause 1.18 of the Codes SEPP.

Where does complying development not apply?

In addition, complying development cannot be carried out on land that: