What is complying development? A comprehensive guide

Complying development approval is needed for a number of different residential, commercial and industrial projects and is necessary to begin construction. Read more below.

15 December, 2020
What is complying development? A comprehensive guide

Complying development approval is needed for a number of different residential, commercial and industrial projects and is necessary to begin construction. However, as many people in the industry know, securing complying development approval is quite complex. The process can be long and intimidating, especially if you’re not used to the terminology in the building and construction industry. To secure complying development approval, you can enlist the help of ES Design’s team. They are experts in acquiring complying development approval and will ensure that your project’s requirements are taken care of.

Even though our team is competent and will confidently guide you through every step of the approval process, it’s important that you understand what complying development is. Understanding the process of acquiring complying development approval and the requirements needed is key in staying abreast with the process and ensuring that whatever team you hire is doing a good job. For this reason, we’ll be presenting a comprehensive guide on complying development.

What is complying development?

Complying development is a fast-track approval for simple and straightforward residential, commercial and industrial developments. It is a combined planning and construction approval that can be determined through a 14-day assessment done by a council or private accredited certifier.

Some examples of complying developments include:

  • simple renovations to a home
  • granny flat
  • construction of a swimming pool
  • property extensions (usually up to 2 storeys)
  • construction of a garage or carport
  • new industrial building
  • alterations and additions to industrial and commercial buildings
  • the demolition of a building

How do you apply for complying development approval?

Applying for complying development approval is available online, however, it is not for every council in NSW. If you live in a council that does not facilitate online complying development applications, then you will have to apply directly to your local council or a private accredited certifier on the Building Professionals Board’s Register.

To apply online, you must follow these steps:

    • Contact your local council about applying for a Complying Development Certificate (CDC). They will most likely recommend that you apply with the following documents:
      • Site plan
      • Design plans
      • Certificate of title
      • Survey plan
      • Accredited building product/system
      • BASIX Certificate
      • BCA Performance Requirements Compliance Statement
      • Compliance certificates relied
      • Documentation for a temporary structure
      • Engineering report regarding support of an adjoining wall
      • Fire safety measures
      • Owner’s consent

These are just some of the requirements needed for a CDC. Depending on the type of project you have, the council may require different documents from those mentioned above. Please note that not every document listed will be required for every project.

  • Register for your NSW Planning Portal account. This is where you will be able to submit documents and applications, track the progress of your application and withdraw your application.
  • Log n to your online application to complete it. Submit all of the relevant documents required by the council, including those specified by your certifier/council.
  • Your nominated certifier will conduct an assessment of your application and either refuse or accept it.

Where is complying development restricted?

There are exclusions and restrictions when it comes to complying development under the general housing code and rural housing code.


  • Land within a heritage conservation (not including a detached outbuilding or swimming pool)
  • Land reserved for a public purpose by an environmental planning instrument
  • Sites identified as Class 1 or 2 Acid Sulphate Soils
  • Sites with an area less than 200 square metres
  • Sites with an area less than 6 metres width
  • Sites or land within a riverfront area
  • Sites or and within a protected area
  • Sites or land within a flood-prone area
  • Land that is in the 25 ANEF contour or a higher ANEF contour (this is only unless the development is only for the erection of ancillary development, the alteration of or an addition to ancillary development or a dwelling house)
  • “Special area” (Water NSW Act 2014)


  • the erection of a roof terrace on the topmost roof of an existing or new dwelling house or outbuilding,
  • the erection of a building over a registered easement

We hope that this article provided clarification around the complex process of acquiring a complying development approval. At ES Design, our team will guide you through the process and ensure that your application is thoroughly completed with all of the relevant documents. We know how important projects are, whether it’s the addition of a beautiful swimming pool or a long-awaited renovation. Our team will try our hardest with your project. To find out more about our services, call us on 0460 000 000.

Your source of design information.

Stay up to date with the latest industry news, including key changes to planning and design regulation. 

28 March, 2022
NSW Government proposes expanding land use to aid in farming recovery

In the wake of recent natural disasters and COVID-19, the NSW Government is committing to a plan that will see the revival of regional NSW.

15 March, 2022
NSW Government to simplify rezoning process following feedback from discussion paper

A new approach to rezonings in NSW is here. Read more from es.au.

3 March, 2022
NSW Government to increase BASIX standards

In working towards a net zero target by 2050, NSW Government has proposed an increase to BASIX standards for new residential buildings.

Load more articles