Exempt & complying development

Before you start building it is important to determine whether you are going to need planning approval. For some work, there are no approvals required and there are also faster approval paths that are available when development is low scale and low impact.

1. Where to go for help?

At all development sites, individuals should be able to identify a sign placed on the hoarding or façade of the site advising of specific contact details, which will include the Builder’s Licence and contact details, as well as the appointed Principal Certifying Authority (PCA). As the development site is managed by the Builder and PCA, any evidence of health and safety breaches should be brought to the attention of the Builder and PCA.

2. What is the role of Council?

Councils are the enforcement regulatory authority responsible for monitoring how development is carried out at the local level.

This includes ensuring the developer and PCA follow the rules and conditions contained in the development consent. Councils employ Compliance Officers and Rangers who undertake this role within their local government boundaries. Councils have the discretion to investigate matters involving non-compliance with development consent and errors in reports or surveys relating to Development Applications. Fair Trading does not have the power to order rectification of non-compliant work on site.

Council’s regulatory powers can result in more effective resolution for customers as they can:

  • exercise its powers, including if the principal certifier is a private certifier
  • enforce development compliance, issue orders, stop work notice or issue a fine if building work breaches legislative requirements or safety conditions
  • issue on the spot fines for failure to comply with an order
  • issue clean up, prevention and noise control notices
  • mediate development issues between the developer and impacted residents
  • commence proceedings in the Land and Environment Court to invalidate a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) that has been issued contrary to planning standards
  • prosecute the certifier for issuing a Construction Certificate (CC) or Occupation Certificate (OC) unlawfully

Urgent non-compliance matters such as dangerous excavation or unsafe building works should be directed to Council for immediate attention. Swimming pools that do not have a compliant barrier enclosure should be directed to the Council for immediate action.

3. How can residents protect themselves?

Documenting all correspondence is important. This should include any evidence that can justify and quantify an issue. In addition to Council, residents can contact the Department of Fair Trading, the Building Professional Board, the Police (depending on the circumstance) and obtain their own legal advice on the matter.

Council’s website has a host of information relevant to all matters.

4. How to escalate concerns?

The clear line of escalation for CDC’s is to firstly establish contact with the appointed PCA and raise the necessary concerns. It may be prudent to follow up the verbal conversation with the PCA in a written form by email or letter. If the PCA does not respond or provides a limited response residents would need to contact Council and express their concern. Depending on the circumstances, Council may send a Ranger, Compliance Officer or a Parking Officer to further investigate the matter. If the matter is outside the jurisdiction of Council, it may be suggested that residents contact the Department of Fair Trading directly.

5. Please note legislation for CDC’s are constantly changing and evolving:

This is certainly not limited to the State and Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008, which outlines works that can be completed without consent.

Council’s Building and Compliance Department are often updated on legislation with workshops, meetings and toolbox training. Council plans to further introduce cross-skilling across variety of departments including the Customer Service team.

Exempt Development

This is minor work which does not require planning approval and therefore does not require lodgement of a Development Application (DA).

For more information on Exempt Development, visit the NSW Department of Planning and Environment website for more information.

Complying Development

This is small scale, low impact development that does not qualify as Exempt Development and is capable of a faster approval process where a building meets all of the predetermined standards established in either a State or local council planning document. Approval (Complying Development Certificate) is required but can be given by either Council or a Private Certifier.

For more information on Complying Development, visit the NSW Department of Planning and Environment website for more information.

From 1 July 2020, Waverley Council will be accepting Complying Development Certificates via the NSW Planning Portal.

All lodgements via the portal must include Waverley Council’s Complying Development Application Form and document requirements and be submitted in accordance with the Waverley Council’s Electronic Lodgement Guidelines, including using the correct naming convention. Once your application has been lodged via the NSW Planning Portal, Council will review the application and then contact you to pay the relevant fee. Council will not begin assessing the application until all the relevant fees are paid.

A computer is available at Council’s Customer Service Centre for you to use the online service, otherwise it can be lodged from your home or office.  If you need assistance using the online service, please view the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s How To guides or contact Service NSW on 1300 305 695 for additional support.

State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008

Also known as the "Codes SEPP", this State legislation contains the following codes for exempt and complying development:

  • Part 2 - Exempt Development
  • Part 3 - General Housing Code
  • Part 4 - Housing Alterations Code
  • Part 5 - General Commercial & Industrial Code

Visit the Codes SEPP on the NSW Legislation website for more information.

Development requiring approval

Any development that is not either exempt or complying development requires a development application (DA). Visit our development application page for more information.

Electronic Lodgement Guidelines

Waverley Council requires electronic lodgement of all plans and supporting documentation for all Planning and Building applications in digital form (as PDF documents contained on a CD, USB or similar device). The documents must be submitted in a particular format which is outlined in Council's Electronic Lodgement Guidelines.