Complying Development

All Complying Development Certificate Applications must be submitted through the NSW Planning Portal. Find out more on our Lodging an Application information page.

What is Complying Development?

Complying development must meet the predetermined development standards within a planning instrument. A Complying Development application can be determined by Council Certifiers or an Accredited Certifier.

Most complying development is contained within State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes), referred to on these pages as ‘The Code SEPP'.

Complying development can be carried out in most parts of the local government area, except for some environmentally sensitive land, national parks and land containing heritage items.

A comprehensive Guide to Complying Development has been prepared by NSW Department of Planning and Environment. Homeowners and developers can use this guide to understand the legislative requirements for developing small scale residential projects, for example, building a new one or two storey home or home renovation.

What development is ‘complying development’ under the SEPP?

The SEPP Code contains ‘Codes’ with development standards for commercial, industrial and residential development. The types of development contained within each of the Codes are listed below. A development may include criteria from more than one of the Codes e.g. the demolition of a dwelling house (Demolition Code) and the construction of a dwelling house (General Housing Code).

Commercial and Industrial Alterations Code
Building alterations (internal), change of use of premises, first use of premises, mechanical ventilation systems, shop fronts and awnings, skylights and roof windows, projecting wall signs, freestanding pylon and directory board signs, development ancillary to the use of land, earthworks, retaining walls and structural support, driveways, hard stand spaces, pathways and paving, fences.

Commercial and Industrial Code (new buildings and additions) Code
The construction of a building for the purposes of industry (other than heavy industry) or a warehouse or distribution centre, addition to an existing building that is used for the purpose of industry (other than heavy industry) or a warehouse or distribution centre, the external alteration of an existing building used for the purpose of industry (other than heavy industry) or a warehouse or distribution centre, an addition to the rear of existing commercial premises, other than on a corner lot.

Demolition Code
The demolition or removal of - a dwelling, ancillary development, a swimming pool, an industrial building, a commercial building that would be complying development under the Commercial and Industrial Alterations Code and the Commercial and Industrial (New Buildings and Additions) Code) if it were being constructed.

Fire Safety Code
Certain fire safety upgrades.

General Development Code
Bed and breakfast, home businesses, tents, marquees or booths for community events, stages or platforms for community events, waterways structures.

General Housing Code
New single storey and two storey dwelling houses, alterations or additions to existing single storey and two storey dwelling houses, detached studios adjoining lanes, swimming pools, fences and retaining walls, construction of fences, outbuildings in heritage conservation areas

Greenfield Housing Code
The erection of a new 1 or 2 storey dwelling house and any attached development, the alteration of, or an addition to, a 1 or 2 storey dwelling house (including any addition that results in a 2 storey dwelling house) and any attached development, the erection of detached development and the alteration of, or an addition to, any detached development, in 'greenfield areas'. For more information visit the Department Of Planning (DOP) website.

Housing Alterations Code
Internal alterations, external alterations, external alteration to residential accommodation other than dwelling houses, attic conversions.

Low Rise Medium Density Code
Manor houses, dual occupancies and terraces. For more information, visit the DOP web site.

Rural Housing Code
New single storey and two storey dwelling houses, alterations or additions to existing single storey and two storey dwelling houses.

Subdivision Code
Strata subdivision of a building, other than a dual occupancy, for which development consent or a complying development certificate was granted.

How do I work out if it is complying development?

You will need to:

  1. Check that land is not excluded from containing complying development are contained within Clause 1.17Clause 1.17A and Clause 1.18 of the SEPP.
  2. Check that the development meets the applicable development standards in the Code.

Where can I find out what Planning Controls apply to my land (e.g. zoning, heritage, acid sulphate, bushfire etc)?

Links to the maps, relating to each suburb, can be found on the applicable suburb page. The maps are also available on the official NSW legislation website in connection with the Newcastle LEP 2012.

Section 10.7 - Planning Certificate for the parcel of land can also be applied for. The Certificate will include the relevant planning information and identify if the land is capable of being utilised for complying development.

The Department of Planning and Environment exhibited the translation of existing Business and Industrial zones into the new Employment zones from 31 May to 12 July 2022. To view the detail please visit the Department’s Planning Portal. Employment zones will be in place within individual LEPs by 1 December 2022 when the existing Business and Industrial zones will be repealed. Further information is available on the Department's website.

As of 1 December 2021, a reference to an Environment Protection zone E1, E2, E3 or E4 in a document should be taken to be a reference to a Conservation zone C1, C2, C3 or C4. For further information please see, Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Amendment (Land Use Zones) Order 2021.

Additional information is available on the NSW Department of Planning website.

Are the developments within the SEPP the only form of complying development?

No. Other complying development are listed in the following planning instruments:

  • Newcastle Local Environmental Plan 2012. The LEP contains provisions to the assessment of a tree removal on private land. Complying Development Certificate Applications should be accompanied by a site plan and a qualified arborist’s report demonstrating that the tree/s are affected by either: Unacceptable Risk, Diseased Condition, Property Damage or Suppressed Growth (see Section 3 of the Urban Forest Technical Manual for more information). If the tree is not affected by any of these criteria a development application is required for the tree removal. Complying Development Certificates (CDC’s) for tree removals can only be determined by CN. Apply for a Complying Development through the NSW Planning Portal.
  • State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 – Development in this planning instrument can only be carried out by government bodies and relates to the provision of infrastructure.
  • SEPP (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 – This planning instrument encourages the development of affordable dwellings. Some of those developments may be Complying Development. Information sheets are available from the Department of Planning and Infrastructure website on the applicable development standards for Group homes and Secondary dwellings (granny flats).

Who can approve a Complying Development Certificate?

A Complying Development Certificate can be determined by Council Certifiers or Accredited Certifiers.

What do I need to submit with my Complying Development Application?

The submission requirements for a Complying Development Application will be dependent on what Code the development 'fits into' and on the characteristics of the property e.g. is it affected by bushfire, flooding, affected by significant land contamination?

comprehensive checklist is available to assist you with the preparation of an application. Applications to City of Newcastle (CN) must be made through the NSW Planning Portal from 1 January 2021.

What common law and other legislative requirements might apply to complying development?

In addition to the requirements specified for development under this code, adjoining owners’ property rights, the applicable common law and other legislative requirements for approvals, licences, permits and authorities still apply.

If the development is in proximity to infrastructure, including water, stormwater and sewer mains, electricity power lines and telecommunications facilities, the relevant infrastructure authority should be contacted before commencing the development.

The legislative requirements specifically highlight the adjoining owner’s property rights and the need to comply with common law and other legislative requirements.

Please note: The information contained above is not legal advice. It is to assist you in planning decisions. CN recommends you seek professional advice and refer to relevant legislation.