development application
  • March 31, 2021
  • Effective Building
  • 0

If you want to make changes to your building or occupy premises, you need a development application to acquire a permit.

In this article, I’ll help you learn the different things you need to know when preparing, lodging, getting advice, and making changes to your development application.

1. Preparing Your Development Application

In this first step, you’ll learn which plans and documents you’ll need. Knowing the initial steps mean you’re likely to have a smooth approval process.

When Do You Need This?

A development application is a formal request to build or modify your home or business site. Most development in Sydney, which may include subdividing land, using land, erecting a building, refurbishment, demolition, pruning or removing trees, and other matter controlled by environmental planning requires approval.

A full development application may not be needed on some works:

  • Exempt development (minor development) doesn’t require approval. These include small fences, barbecues, small decks, and satellite dishes.
  • Some types of development may be approved through another process. These fall under complying development and may include 1 or 2-storey homes, modifications and additions, and outbuildings.
  • You’ll still need approval for certain development to be carried to heritage items or within heritage conservation areas.

What You Need to Do

Review Planning Controls

Your development needs to align the site’s characteristics and the planning controls that apply to it.

Speak to a Planner

Development application staff offer some general planning advice, pre-DA advice for large or more complex developments, and advice about their digital and physical model requirements.

Check the Application Requirements

Review what supporting documents should accompany the application, how to prepare digital files, scale models, and a cost summary report, and the need for donation and gifts disclosure. To prepare your development application, you need to enlist specialists such as engineers, architects, or land surveyors.

2. Lodge Your Development Application

Approval is required for changes to your home or business site in your area. Applications are made through the NSW Planning Portal.

Submit the Requirements

Before you start, you need to submit the following requirements:

  • Document requirements
  • Model requirements (physical and 3D models)
  • Digital requirements (file type, size, and name of your electronic documents)
  • Fees and estimated costs of works
  • Disclosing political gifts and donations

After checking your requirements, all applications must be made through the NSW Planning Portal. They won’t accept applications by post or email.

Lodge Development Application with NSW Planning Portal

It’s your responsibility to provide all required information with enough detail for a decision to be made. Doing it right will save time and money.

They’ll aim to review your development application within 2 business days of receiving it. Timeframes are a guide only. If more information is required, they’ll let you know. 

When your application is ready to proceed, they’ll request payment. The payment will only be lodged once they receive your payment. 

It’s also recommended to meet with a duty planner before lodging your application.

After You Finish


They’ll assess your development application once it has been lodged. If necessary, your application will be placed on exhibition to allow the public to comment on your proposal. You may need to visit the site and will be in touch if access is required.

When assessing an application, they consider relevant planning controls and conditions, probable impacts of the development suitability of the site, public interest, and any comments and objections.

They may request additional information from you and also get advice from specialists. They’ll let you know if changes need to be made to the proposal.

Integrated development needs approval from Road and Maritime Services. Applications for integrated development need an additional fee paid to the relevant authority. This will be requested through the NSW Planning Portal after applying.

The Decision

For small developments, most decisions are made at an employee level. The Local Planning Panel determines applications for significant development.

The Central Sydney Planning Committee determines applications over $50 million. They’ll inform you if your application will be determined at these meetings, open to the public in the Council Chambers at Sydney Town Hall.

There are 3 possible outcomes for an application:

  • Development consent granted, with possible conditions
  • Refusal with reasons
  • Deferred commencement consent. One or more important issues must be addressed before consent is granted. This is a rare outcome.

Consent conditions can modify your plans which may add costs to your project. If your application is refused, you can request a determination review, modify and relodge your application, or take it to the Land and Environment Court.

To make changes to your approved lodgement, you can lodge a consent modification. 

3. Get Advice from the City of Sydney for Your Development Application

What You Need to Do

It’s your responsibility to be aware of the needed planning controls and policies that apply to your development before the application.

They offer 3 types of advice to help you through the development application process.

General Planning Advice

For general advice about minor developments such as signs, outdoor dining, and residing alterations and additions, you can make an appointment to speak to a duty planner.

During the appointment, you can find out:

  • Whether a development application is required.
  • Whether your proposed development is permissible
  • About fees payable
  • How their plans, codes, and policies affect your proposed development

Duty planner appointments for general planning advice are only available by phone. The call will be limited to a maximum of 45 minutes without consecutive bookings allowed.

Pre-Development Application Advice

For planning advice on large or more complex developments, such as multistorey developments and residential flat buildings, or significant developments involving a heritage item, you’ll need to arrange a pre-development application meeting.

You can talk with our building consultant/inspector, Elie Farah, to help you with the process. But typically, pre-development application meetings are free of charge. However, this is very crucial as it can identify any potential issues and offer preliminary design advice before lodging the formal application. This helps to develop mutually acceptable solutions to issues and proceed with the assessment process.

The service level provided in pre-development application meetings depends on the proposal nature and the sought advice.

Model Advice

Some development applications require you to create a model. You can speak to a Sydney modeller for advice about your physical and digital model requirements. 

4. Modifications on Development Application

When Do You Need to Do This?

There are several ways you have given consent can do to make changes to a development application after the City of Sydney has given consent.

Each way depends on what kind of changes you want to make and how they’ll affect the development application that was originally approved:

  • To correct a minor issue, a miscalculation, or incorrect description, an application to change the development section 4.55(1) is required.
  • A section 4.55(1A) application is required for minimal environmental impact changes.
  • To revise the consent in other ways due to design change, evidence needs to be provided that the development will be substantially the same.
  • For modification of a consent handed down by the Land and Environment Court, a section 4.56 application is required.

What Do You Need to Do?

  • Prepare your modification application. A modification application should include plans and other relevant information to the application and disclosure statement.
  • All documents should comply with their digital requirements.
  • Lodge your modification application. All should be made through the NSW Planning Portal. They’ll not accept applications by email in person or by post.

For more information about building inspection and consultancy services, contact us here.

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About Elie Farah

Elie Farah is a Building Consultant with over 25 years of experience in the property industry. Elie has specialised knowledge in development acquisitions, blue-chip properties and inspections, as well as flood-affected and waterfront properties, heritage buildings, bushfire management and existing use rights.

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