Most air conditioning units 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, the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 does mandate rules for the installation of air-conditioning units, including evaporative cooling units.

If for residential uses only, the air conditioning units must:

  • Not be located on the wall or roof of a building that faces the primary road
  • Not be forward of the building line to the primary road
  • Be located at least 450mm from each lot boundary
  • Be attached to the external wall of a building or ground mounted, not higher than 1.8m above ground level

Installation of the air conditioning units must not involve work that reduces the structural integrity of the building, and not reduce the existing fire resistance level of a wall or roof.

During peak time, the unit must not operate at a noise level that exceeds five decibels above the ambient background noise level measured at any property boundary.

During off-peak times, the noise level must not be audible in habitable rooms of adjoining residences.

If the air conditioning unit is constructed or installed on or in a heritage item or a draft heritage item, it must be ground mounted, and be installed at or behind the rear building line.

If installed for purposes other than residential uses (shops, offices, etc.), the air conditioning unit must not be built into any external wall unless it is more than three metres from each side and rear boundary and six metres from any other building on the lot.

Any opening created by the construction or installation of the air conditioning unit must be adequately waterproofed.

For further details, contact Council on 1300 434 434 or

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