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What is complying development?

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

The traditional form of obtaining approval for a Development in NSW is to lodge a Development Application with the Local Council.

Increasingly, an alternative form of application known as Complying Development is being made available.

While under a Development Application, the consent authority (usually the local Council), performs a merit assessment of the proposal, complying development is essentially a "tick box", yes/no exercise in assessing whether a proposal meets all the requirements for complying development.

An advantage of Complying Development is that it generally offers a quicker approval time than under a Development Application. Complying Development Certificates can also be issued by an accredited private certifier. A list of accredited certifiers can be found at the following link:

Certificates can also be issued by the Local Council which is particularly useful in regional areas where fewer private certifiers are available.

A majority of the allowed forms of Complying Development are outlined in State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt & Complying Development Codes) 2008. A link to this policy can be found here:

Forms of development that are covered in the policy include:

- New houses

- Alterations/additions to existing houses

- Bed and breakfast accommodation

- Home businesses

- Alterations and additions to commercial/industrial buildings

- New commercial/industrial buildings

- Strata subdivision of existing buildings

- Demolition of certain existing buildings

- Certain fire safety works

It is important to read the policy carefully to determine whether the proposal meets the requirements for complying development. There are a number of site based requirements and design based requirements (eg. height, setbacks). On certain sites eg. subject to heritage listings, many forms of complying development are not allowed.

We can assist with determining whether a development proposal can proceed as complying development. Feel free to email me at to discuss how we can assist.

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