Council supports well designed and suitable developments and not all projects require development consent.
To help you decide if you need to submit a Development Application or can build using other avenues you need to consider the planning rules for where you live and what you want to build there. We have developed a Simple Guide for Residential Developments to help you understand the differences between Development Applications, Complying Development Certificates and Exempt Development and the application process.
Planning Enquiry Service - 1300 434 434
Council provides Planning Enquiry Officers to assist you in understanding Council's planning controls, the Development Assessment process and to answer general planning enquiries.
Talk to a Planning Enquiry Officer:
- Phone: Call 1300 434 434 between 8.30am - 5pm.
- In person: Visit Council’s Customer Service Centres
- Dee Why - Monday to Friday 8.30am - 5pm
- Manly or Mona Vale - Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 12:30pm and 1:30pm - 5pm (not available between 12:30pm and 1:30pm)
The Planning Enquiry Officers are available to:
- Provide information on the DA assessment process and how you can track the progress of your DA.
- Provide information on where you can find Council’s development controls (such as Local Environmental Plans and Development Control Plans) and provide general assistance with interpretation of the controls. The Officers are not able to provide detailed information on which controls apply to development or the likelihood of any variation to the controls being supported by Council.
- Provide assistance with understanding plans and information submitted with a development application during the DA notification period. The Officers are not able to provide advice on the likely outcome of any application.
- Provide information on how you can obtain higher level planning advice via Council’s Pre-Lodgement process. The Officers are not able to provide advice regarding the merits or likelihood of approval of a proposal.
- Provide general advice on whether a development requires a DA or direct you to where you can obtain this information. The Officers are not able to provide any detailed or site specific assessment or advice as to whether a development meets the provisions as exempt or complying development.
Please note, due to the high demand on this service, we are unable to go through all controls in detail or provide a detailed assessment of any development proposal you may be considering. You may wish to provide information such as a sketch plan or a photo (over the counter only) to enable the Officer to provide you with more effective and accurate advice during your discussion.
Council's planning controls and policies are available for you to review to determine what the site can accommodate. Please note, you may need to seek professional advice from an architect, draughtsperson and/or planner, before preparing development plans.
Exempt Development (no approval required) has very minimal environmental impact and providing your building project meets specific development standards, approval from Council may not be needed.
Some common examples of exempt development are:
- Awnings and other shade structures
- Decks, verandahs, terraces, balconies or pergolas
- Garden sheds
- Fences and gates
- Home business
- Privacy screens
- Air conditioning units
- Earthworks (excavation, fill or retaining walls)
Visit the NSW Department Planning, Industry & Environment's webpage for further information or contact's Council's Planning Enquiry Officer on 1300 434 434 for advice.
Complying Development is a combined planning and construction approval for straightforward development that can be determined through a fast-track assessment by a council or an accredited certifier. Providing your application meets specific development standards, approval (known as a Complying Development Certificate or CDC) can be granted, without the need for a full Development Application.
Types of complying development may include:
- Internal alterations to a house
- Granny flats
- A new single or two storey dwelling
- Swimming pool
- Carports, garages and driveways
Visit the NSW Department Planning, Industry & Environment's webpage to see if your project complies with the development requirements. You can also visit the NSW Planning Portal, which will provide specific property details.
Private Certifiers may use our online tools to lodge a determined complying development certificate online
If your project is not considered exempt or able to be built using complying development standards, search Council's planning rules for your property to see if it is permitted with development consent. If this is the case you will need to lodge a Development Application.
View our Application Process page for DA Pre-Lodgement meeting information, steps to lodge your application and to understand our development application assessment process.