A Quick Overview of Exempt vs Complying Developments in NSW

NSW planning regulations are constantly evolving. Understanding them is essential if you want to begin work on your dream home within the state.

2 February, 2023
A Quick Overview of Exempt vs Complying Developments in NSW

Navigating through development laws in NSW can be a daunting and confusing task for building designers, developers, and homeowners alike. The NSW planning regulations are constantly evolving but understanding them is essential if you want to begin work on your dream home within the state. ES Design helps clients determine whether their project is an exempt or complying development in NSW to help you build your dream home with greater ease!

At ES Design, we provide a streamlined process for certifying and approving plans without the hassle. 

What are exempt and complying developments in NSW, and what do they mean for you as a home builder or property owner/developer?

Before any building works can commence, it’s important to determine if the development meets Exempt Development criteria and whether planning controls or SEPPs are applicable. If not, approval under Complying Development may be necessary. To begin that process, obtain a Section 10.7 Planning Certificate from either your local Council or the NSW Planning Portal; this will clarify relevant restrictions to ensure compliance with desired plans is achieved as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Complying development is a form of approval for certain low-risk building work that can be approved quickly without needing full planning approval from the council.

The rules for complying developments are set out in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the Codes SEPP). For a project to qualify as complying development, it must meet all conditions set out in the Codes SEPP. These include conditions such as size limits, height limits, setbacks from boundaries, car parking spaces, landscaping requirements and more.
The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 outlines what classes as ‘exempt’ development-low impact projects that do not require approval from council under the EPA Act, such as building decks, painting houses or adding windows to rooms. When these activities meet all applicable standards in accordance with the Code SEPP, no additional consent is required.

Exempt development refers to minor building works that do not require any form of approval from a council. Examples of exempt developments include small garden sheds up to 10 square metres in size, minor renovations such as replacing windows and doors, small detached structures such as pergolas or carports up to 20 square metres in area, and demolishing an existing structure. Exempt developments may still be subject to other requirements, such as bushfire protection or heritage conservation areas.

How can you ensure your development is exempt or complying, and what are the consequences if it’s not?

At ES Design, we provide an expedited, approved plan to make the development process easier. Our expertise and experience will help you understand all available options so that we can work together towards achieving a successful outcome for your project – without having to worry about red tape or lengthy applications with council authorities.

Exempt and complying development is outlined in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP). This includes limited low-impact projects, such as building a ground-floor deck or adding a window to a room. If all of the relevant standards are met under Codes SEPP, no approval from council will be required by law through EPA Act – other governing legislations may still apply.

What is the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP)? 

Complying development is an important concept in urban planning in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Specifically, complying development code 2008 or the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) exempt and complying with code criteria and procedures for complying with these regulations. The code outlines specific complexities related to buildings, subdivisions, demolition, and roof-mounted units such as solar panels or skylights and fencing. All complying developments must meet certain standards when built, altered or modified according to local government planning documents. This ensures that buildings comply with local laws while providing a degree of flexibility for buildings to be constructed in a way that suits the environment around them.

Meet all the necessary requirements for approval with ES Design

Meeting development approval standards can be a complex process, particularly in complying with regulations of the various state governments in building standards and energy efficiency measures, from design to construction to compliance with state regulations governing building standards and energy efficiency measures etc. However, by undertaking a considered approach from concept design to construction and incorporating a compliance strategy into project planning, meeting these standards can become much more achievable. To make the process easier for everyone involved, standard documents are available from complying development NSW, which can help streamline the process for all stakeholders.

ES Design offers complying development services for those seeking to gain development approvals complying with the regulations prescribed by each state. By ensuring designs comply with building and energy efficiency standards, ES Design delivers project solutions to meet our client’s specific aims. The expertise of the engineering and architectural staff employed by ES Design gives the confidence that whatever design you come up with meets all state-mandated compliance build standards. Additionally, due to our in-depth knowledge and expertise in developing in NSW, we can provide advice and consultation during all phases of the project – from initial designs to final construction – thereby giving clients peace of mind that your project meets every requirement.

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