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We've created a list of frequently asked questions to assist our applicants with general planning enquiries.

Call our Planning Enquiry Officers on 1300 434 434 for further assistance.

What is a Local Environmental Plan (LEP)?

A Local Environmental Plan (LEP) is the primary planning document for a local government area.  An LEP and the maps accompanying it detail Council’s overall strategic requirements for an area including land zonings and permissible development in each zone.

Northern Beaches Council currently has 4 LEP’s that apply to land in the area, as follows:

A single LEP for the whole of the Northern Beaches is being prepared by Council’s Strategic Planning Team.

Our vision for the future is mapped out in Towards 2040, the Northern Beaches first Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS).

What is a Development Control Plan (DCP)?

A Development Control Plan (DCP) provides detailed planning and design guidelines to support the planning controls in the LEP.

Northern Beaches Council currently has four DCP’s that apply to land in the area, as follows:

To check which DCP applies to your land refer to Council's Planning Maps or speak to a Planning Enquiry officer.

What type of developments are permitted on my property?

The relevant Local Environmental Plan (LEP) applying to your property (either PLEP, WLEP, or MLEP) includes a land use table that contains all land zonings within the Plan. Warringah LEP 2000 applies to a small amount of land in the Oxford Falls/Belrose area and is a Plan that operates differently to the other LEP’s. It does not have a standard land use table format.

The table in each LEP contains a list of all uses that are permitted with consent, permitted without consent, and prohibited. At the end of each LEP is a dictionary where you can find the definitions of most land uses.

If your property is in the area covered by Warringah LEP 2000, you are encouraged to make a direct enquiry with our Planning Enquiry Officer if you have questions regarding the permissibility of land uses.

Use our Planning Controls to access each of the LEPs and our Property Search to find the land uses applicable to your site.

Do I need development consent?

In general, there are three classifications of development which determines whether development consent for your works is required or not:

  • Exempt Development – Some minor development, called exempt development, does not require consent. Minor works such as a small deck, fencing or kitchen renovations may fit this category subject to compliance with all relevant criteria specified within the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.
  • Complying Development – Building a new house extension, adding a pool, or granny flat may be eligible for a fast approval from Council or an accredited certifier.  This is called a Complying Development Certificate.  A simplified and expeditious approval process can be followed for these types of works where they meet standards specified for a complying development certificate within the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 or relevant Local Environmental Plan (LEP). Contact our Planning Enquiry Officer for further information in relation to Complying Development Certificates.
  • Development Application (DA) - If your development is not classified as exempt or complying development, then a development application is required to be submitted to Council for approval.

How much will it cost me to submit a Development Application?

DA Fees are calculated on a scale based on the estimated cost of development. Information about the fees and charges applicable to your proposed development can be found by:

What information do I need for my Development Application?

The minimum documentation required to accompany a development application (DA) is specified by Schedule 1 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.  All owners of the land must provide their written consent to the lodgement of an application by way of signatures on the Development Application Form.

Council has a Lodgement Requirements checklist to guide you through the information required for development applications and detailed lodgement information can be found here.

What is a Statement of Environmental Effects?

A Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) is a report which explains the likely impacts of the proposal and how you will minimise these impacts. The statement includes written information about your proposal that cannot be readily shown on your plans and drawings.

An SEE must be lodged with every development application (DA) and is usually prepared by a Planner, Architect or Draftsman.

How long will it take for my Development Application to be determined by the council?

This varies according to a number of issues including the complexity of the proposed development; whether or not it complies with the planning and building controls; and whether or not submissions are received in response to the notification process.

Fences - Do I need approval in a residential zone?

For your fence to be considered as exempt development (no approval required) it must comply with the following requirements:

  • For fences on common lot boundaries (shared with another property), maximum height of 1.8m
  • For front fences adjoining a road, maximum height of 1.2m, and be open for a minimum of 20% of the part of the fence that is above 400mm.
  • Maximum masonry height of 1.2m

For a full list of development standards that apply to fences in residential zones (R1, R2, R3 R4 and RU5) as exempt development, please refer to these provisions of the State Policy (Subdivision 17).

If the proposal doesn't qualify as exempt development, you may be able to apply for a Complying Development Certificate or a Development Application.

If you are considering erecting a fence on a boundary shared with a neighbour, you may have obligations under the NSW Dividing Fences Act 1991.

What is a secondary dwelling?

A secondary dwelling (also known as a ‘granny flat’) is a self-contained dwelling on the same land as the principal dwelling (excluding land in a strata plan or community title scheme).

A secondary dwelling may be constructed in the following forms:

  • Attached to the principal dwelling
  • Detached from the principal dwelling
  • As a separate dwelling but integrated within the principal dwelling

In most cases, the maximum floor space permitted for a secondary dwelling is 60sqm. It must also meet relevant requirements including height, building setbacks, and minimum landscape open space requirements.

Can I subdivide a secondary dwelling?

No. Secondary dwellings must remain on the same title as the principal dwelling and can only be sold together.

Does a Section 7.11 levy apply to Secondary Dwellings?

Yes. Section 7.11 (formerly Section 94) Development Contributions apply to all new secondary dwellings, including alterations and additions to an existing dwelling to create a secondary dwelling.

Do Building Code of Australia (BCA) requirements apply?

Yes. All relevant requirements within the Building Code of Australia (BCA) apply. Some secondary dwellings may change the building classification under the BCA.

How do I apply for approval to build a secondary dwelling?

There are two ways to apply for approval:

  • Complying development in residential zones

If your plans for a secondary dwelling satisfy all the provisions of the Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) 2009 and the requirements of the Exempt and Complying Development Codes SEPP 2008 you can apply to have the development approved by a Council-accredited certifier or private accredited certifier.

  • Development application

If your proposal is in a rural zone or does not meet all the requirements under the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP 2009 and the Exempt and Complying Development Codes SEPP 2008, you will need to lodge a Development Application with Council. The secondary dwelling will be required to meet the requirements of the Warringah, Pittwater or Manly Local Environmental Plans and Development Control Plans. More information can be found on our Planning Controls page.

What is Bush Fire Prone Land?

Bush fire prone land is an area of land that can support a bush fire or is likely to be subject to bush fire attack. Bush fire prone land is identified on councils’ bush fire prone land maps.

What do I need if I am Building in a Bushfire Prone Area?

All Development Applications (DAs) on bushfire prone land must be accompanied by a Bushfire Assessment Report. The assessment report determines the suitability of a proposal with regards to bushfire through consideration of the requirements contained within the Planning for Bushfire Protection document prepared by the Rural Fire Service.

There are two primary methods for the preparation of a Bushfire Assessment Report:

  • Prepare the report yourself using the Rural Fire Service's application kit. This is only suitable for development involving single dwelling application that meets all of the acceptable solutions of the Rural Fire Service's Planning for Bush Fire Protection document. It should be noted that applicants who decide to prepare a report themselves take on the responsibility of providing accurate information to Council and the NSW Rural Fire Service. Submissions of inaccurate information may result in requests for additional information and a delay in the DA process.
  • Engage an appropriately qualified bushfire consultant. The Fire Protection Association of Australia provides contact details for consultants with formal accreditation.