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Most awnings and shade structures are classified as ‘Exempt Development’ and do not require Council approval so long as they have minimal environmental impact and otherwise meets specific development standards.

However, awnings, like all building structures, must be maintained regularly to prevent degradation and maintain structural adequacy.

Regular maintenance of awnings is crucial to minimising the risk of a collapse and ensuring an adequate level of safety to the public.

Much of the Northern Beaches is subject to salt air corrosion and periodic high winds. The owners of properties such as commercial premises (shops, offices, etc.) with cantilevered awnings over public footpaths have a responsibility to ensure that their awnings are structurally sound in the interest of public safety.

Awnings are part of the buildings to which they are attached and are the responsibility of the owner of the building, even when an awning is located over a public footpath.

The Roads Act 1993 clarifies in section 142(1) the responsibility for awnings over roads (including footpaths) by requiring that a person having a right to control the structure must maintain it in a satisfactory state of repair.

As Council permits these awnings to encroach over its property, building owners are recommended to have their awnings periodically inspected by an Structural Engineer that are specialising in shop awning construction and repairs to ensure the awning is structural adequate for long term stability.

To address the safety of awnings, when required Council may take formal action to ensure the safety of existing awnings.

For further details, contact Council on 1300 434 434 or council@northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au

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