Deciding whether or not to build is always an exciting prospect, and usually, a decision to build must be accompanied by a Development Application (DA) in NSW (in other states they are called Planning Approvals). A DA is necessary if you are looking to build on or develop your property unless it is deemed a minor, small-scale renovation or low-scale work by the Council.
What is a Development Application?
Whether you are adding a secondary dwelling such as a granny flat, or looking to build from scratch, a DA may need to be lodged with the Council in order for them to assess the validity of your plans. City Planning Officers will be responsible for evaluating your application unless the work is considered significant (over 3-storeys high or over $50 million), in which case it will be handled by the Central Sydney Planning Committee. Other states will have varying controls.
What work is exempt from a Development Application?
Additions to your home such as a balcony, patio, pergola, verandah or carport maybe exempt from a DA as they are considered minor work and will have little to no effect on the local area. The addition of a driveway, pathway, paving and deck are also exempt. Adding a fence, tank or energy system as well as shade, waterway or even temporary structures also require no prior approval. For more information on exempt developments, visit the NSW Government Planning Portal.
What is a Complying Development Certificate?
For some projects, a Complying Development Certificate can be sought instead of a full Development Application. A CDC will be requested in some cases where prescribed approval development conditions are already met. The CDC process often tends to be faster than a DA. Construction of a new or secondary dwelling, additions or alterations, demolition, or small retail and commercial development may be eligible for a CDC.
So what does Council take into account when deciding whether or not to approve your DA?
Knowing what the Council is looking at in advance will make it easier when submitting your DA. The Council will focus on five main factors when assessing your Development Application.
Any individual who feels that a proposed development may affect their property or the general location of their property may lodge a submission in response to a DA. The submission will be taken into consideration, and any concerns or legitimate interests will be assessed. While any and all submissions will be taken seriously, they are just one consideration that the Council will be looking into. DAs and any submissions relating to the property will be made public. The number of submissions received in relation to a proposed development does not have any bearing on the actual decision outcome.
2. The impact of the development on the local area
If your plans impact the local area in a negative way, then it may be a deciding factor when it comes to approving or denying your application. Will it affect the environment? Will the build drive down prices? What is the impact of the increased population in the area? Will local services be impacted? Depending on the type of build, all kinds of factors will be considered before Council will give it the green light.
3. Planning Controls and Conditions
As different plans apply to various parts of the city, it is essential to know whether any development policies are in effect in your specific area. Any current policies or plans will shed light on the situation and provide guidance on what you can and cannot do in the space. Undertaking a development which is not in accordance with current planning or development policies will be vetoed from the outset.
4. Public Interest
Is the development in the public’s interest if it goes ahead? While you may consider that your proposed scheme is worthwhile, the local council will assess it from the public’s standpoint and let you know their decision. Any development, other than that which is exempt, will require Council to contact adjoining neighbours to let them know of any plans you may have regarding the property. If they wish to raise any objections, then they can do so via the submission process.
5. Suitability of the site
Is the site suitable for development? Have you taken all the necessary aspects into account? Are you making the best use of the site? Is the land physically suited to your development? Once the site suitability has been ascertained, and the development has met all of the other criteria with satisfaction, then, in all likelihood, it will be approved.
To learn more about submitting a DA or whether your project is exempt from the development application requirement, contact your Local Council. Your local Development Enquiry Officer at the Council will be able to help you with any pre-lodgement queries and provide information on how to best handle the lodgement of your DA.