Submitting a Development Application to Council

Home Owners
Feb 2023

Firstly, it is important to know the approval pathways available in New South Wales (NSW). Sometimes with a little research and some amendments a Development Application might not be required for your project.

Exempt Developments

Exempt Development is minor development that will have minimal impact on the site and surrounding neighbours or locality. It does not require consent or approval, if it meets standards set in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP).

Examples of exempt development are barbecues, small fences, satellite dishes and small decks.

Complying Developments

Complying development is an approval process for routine development that meets specified development standards listed in the Codes SEPP. Complying development certificates can be granted by an accredited private certifier.

Development Applications

If your development is outside of scope to be exempt or complying development, a Development Application (DA) is required. A DA is a formal application for development that requires consent under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979(EP&A Act).

It is usually made to your local Council and consists of standard application forms, supporting technical reports and plans. The DA is submitted through the NSW Planning Portal and viewed by Council which assesses and provides development consent.

The process of lodgement and assessment of a Development Application can seem complicated, but it doesn’t need to be! This blog will help you to understand the steps involved in lodgement, assessment, and decision-making for your Development Application.

Keep reading to find out how it works.

Submitting a Development Application to Council can be a complex process.

How does the Development Application process work?

The application process for a Development Application can be complex, and it is essential to ensure that all required information is included with the application to avoid delays in the approval process.

Each local Council has its own process for accepting and assessing development applications, so it is a good idea to engage experts early in the process to abide by local planning processes. This avoids costly delays further down the line.

When preparing a DA, the first step is to engage with a draftsperson, architect or designer to discuss your vision for the development and have a set of plans drafted for the proposal. Ensuring these align with your local planning guidelines.

The Council considers many planning guidelines and controls when assessing your application. Not only are they guided by the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), but they also consider the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 (EP&A Reg), several State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs), the relevant Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) and Councils specific Development Control Plan (DCP).

These guidelines and controls determine what is permissible in your area. For instance, they may specify the maximum height of your building, methods of stormwater disposal, areas of built form and landscaping on your site.

Once you have your plans, the next step is to prepare and collate the additional supporting documentation required. These are prescribed by your Local Council and based on The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021. Each Council will require specific documents to accompany your application and your filled application form as well as owners consent.

How do you prepare a Development Application?

A Development Application is prepared following the guidance of the above-mentioned legislation and can require various reports, certifications, and assessments such as:

• Engineering,

• Site Surveys,

• a BASIX Assessment,

• Statement of Environmental Effects

• and Architectural Plans, among others.

Aside from your architectural plans, the most crucial document in your application is your Statement of Environmental Effects or SEE. The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 in Schedule 1, Part 1 (2) ‘Development Applications’ outlines that an SEE must accompany a Development Application.

What is a Statement of Environmental Effects?

A Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) is submitted to Council with your accompanying documentation before issuing development consent. A SEE is a report required for all DA’s. It details and explains the likely impacts of your proposal during and after the development. The SEE also details the mitigated responses to any likely impacts, using knowledge from local Development Control Plans (DCP), LEP’s and SEPP’s.

Statements of Environmental Effects are generally completed by Town Planners, working with you and your local Council to present your development in a written format that supports your application. The SEE details the various aspects of your development and how your proposal improves your amenity, whilst upkeeping the amenity of the properties around you.

Like all documents, a SEE is one that yes, you can complete yourself although engaging technical specialists ensures the stress of a Development Application is taken off your hands and into theirs to develop a document which is more likely to be accepted by Council.

Lodgement and Assessment of your Development Application

Once all documentation has been collated, the final step is to submit the DA via the NSW Planning Portal. The application will go through a preliminary review within Council where additional information may be requested before an Assessing Officer is assigned. If all supplied information passes through the preliminary review, the DA will be officially lodged and assigned a DA number and an Assessing Officer.

At any time within their assessment, the Council Assessing Officer can request additional information via a formal Request for Information (RFI). You will be given a timeframe (usually 7-30 days) to supply the additional information which can include external consultancy reports, amendments to the development design and or architectural plans, changes to the supplied documents or other.

Once lodged, your development may be posted for public notification where community members may object to your DA and current design. Council will consider the objections of surrounding occupants in their assessment and potentially request a response from you (the applicant).

Common non compliances with the planning controls

Considering the various planning framework to include and review for a DA, the most common non-compliances we see are:

1. A non-compliance with Part 4 of the Local Environment Plan (LEP)

If your site has been mapped a maximum building height, or floor space ratio under the relevant LEP and your development proposes to exceed this, you may request a variation to the standard via a Clause 4.6 Exceptions to Development Standards.

2. A non-compliance with the Development Control Plan

Merit assessment is applied to an application when the works require variations to DCP controls. In order to request a merit assessment, justification is provided in written form within a Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) or Modification Report. These will need to be provided with any supporting documentation prepared by suitably qualified professionals. The merit assessment is a request made to Council to consider the impact of the development based upon our justification and vary the control.

Approval of the Development Application

If the DA is approved, you will be given a stamped set of approved plans and a set of conditions of consent, allowing you to engage a Certifier and commence building works when a Construction Certificate is issued.

Each Council has its own planning guidelines, it pays to do your research or engage a professional

Essential tips for the DA process

• Make sure you include a full set of Architectural Plans and a Statement of Environmental Effects, taking into account your local planning guidelines.

• Ensure you provide all other requested documentation with the application. This may include Bushfire Reports and even Waste Management Plans depending on your Council area.

• Applications must be lodged with the correct fee and filled application forms.

• Respond to any Council Requests for Information within the timeframe provided.

• When your DA is approved, you must attain a Construction Certificate before commencing any building works on site.

How can I Simplify the process of applying for a Development Application?

Feeling overwhelmed by the process of applying for a development application? If so, you're not alone. The process can be complicated and time-consuming, but there are ways to simplify it.

Here are some tips to help you streamline the process of applying for a development application:

1. Start by doing your research. Familiarise yourself with the local planning guidelines, Development Application process and requirements for your Council. This will save you time and energy later on.

2. Get organised. Create a folder or system to keep all of your development application documents in one place. This will help you stay on track and avoid missing any critical deadlines.

3. Find a professional. Working with a Town Planner or development application consultant like Approved can save you time and stress. They can help you navigate the process and ensure that your application is complete, accurate and compliant with your local planning guidelines.

Engaging a Professional can decrease the approval time from your local Council

We make Council Approval easy for you.

Our expert team has an in-depth understanding of the planning regulations in New South Wales. This, coupled with our use of expert Town Planners, means that you can expect a seamless application process and accelerated turnaround time for your approval. We provide a complete service to get your DA submitted to your local Council with all of the required documentation. All we need are your architectural plans.

Your Approved team integrates knowledge from state and local legislation, working with Local Governments within NSW to assist you in your DA. Our role, as your Town Planner is to guarantee you are equipped with the accurate information to ensure your application has the best chance of success.

In working with Approved, you will receive a dedicated client manager who will be the only point of contact you need to get your project across the line.

Our one-of-a-kind portal will allow you to:

• Liaise with Town Planners to ensure the perfect approval pathway for your project

• Manage all documentation and reports required for your Development Application

• Keep track of every step of the process for your Development Application approval through your local council

• Improve application determination times by providing quick communication every step of the way

Get started today and get building faster.

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