Planning Terms

City Planning Works
Planning Terms

Complying Development (see also Exempt Development)
Low-impact development types which meet specified development standards are classified under the EPA Act as ‘complying’. Although this type of development does not require a development application, it does require certification from either an accredited certifier or a council. State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 lists development which may be complying and the applicable standards. A Complying Development Certificate (CDC) may be issued by a certifier within 10 days. Adjoining owners don’t have to be notified until two days before construction begins, unless excavation is proposed in which case the notification period is seven days.

Development Application (DA)
Application for consent (by Council or other approval body) to carry out works or use land or premises (including change of use).

Development Control Plan (DCP)
Detailed and usually comprehensive council rules for development. Adopted after public consultation. Details may include controls for parking, setbacks, landscaped area, solar access etc. Councils may approve non–complying DAs, provided DCP objectives are followed.

Sydney Planning Panels (formerly Joint Regional Planning Panels)
Projects with a CIV over $30 million, within Greater Sydney Region other than City of Sydney, are considered by the Sydney Planning Panels, which take development approval decisions out of council hands. Panels comprise three members (two state and one Council) plus the chair that can be one of the members.

Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act)
The principal act of the NSW Parliament regulating the planning and development approval process throughout the state.

Environmental Planning Instrument (EPI)
A statutory plan approved and published by the Department of Planning, includes LEPs, SEPPs and REPs. Compliance is mandatory, subject to a limited right to exceed mathematically expressed controls such as height of building.

Exempt Development (see also Complying Development)
Low-impact development which adheres to specified development standards is classified under the EPA Act as ‘exempt’. Because neither planning nor construction approval is required, the development can be built without the approval of the council or an accredited certifier and without notification of neighbours.

Government Information Public Access Act 2009
The GIPA Act allows access to documents held by state government agencies, including councils, subject only to restrictions necessary for the proper administration of the agency e.g. commercially sensitive information.

Land & Environment Court (LEC)
The LEC is the division of the Supreme Court of NSW. Amongst other matters, it deals with appeals, mostly by applicants, against council refusals of development consent.

Local Environmental Plan (LEP)
The principal statutory instrument regulating land use and development within a local government area. It states the objectives of each zone and lists uses which are prohibited, permissible with consent, or permissible without consent in each zone.

Local Government Act
Act of the NSW Parliament which establishes the structure and duties of local government.

Local Government Area (LGA)
The area over which a council has jurisdiction. Some LGAs have increased greatly in area and population as a result of amalgamation.

Principal Certifying Authority (PCA)
The Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) is responsible for inspecting buildings and subdivision works during the construction phase of a development. Either council or a private accredited certifier can be appointed to act as the PCA.

Division 8.2 review
A review carried out at the request of applicant following a refusal or the imposition of unwanted conditions of consent. Councils have six months to complete this review so that any application for such a review must be made quickly. The review is usually conducted by an officer other than the one who assessed the application.

Section 4.55 Application
Section 4.55 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 allows a development consent to be modified provided it is substantially the same. The type of modification requested determines which of the four categories of application is applicable:

  • Section 4.55 (1) - involving only minor error, misdescription or miscalculation.
  • Section 4.55 (1A) - involving minimal environmental impact.
  • Section 4.55 (2) - involving more substantial modifications to a development.
  • Section 4.55 (8) - modification of consent granted by the Land & Environment Court.

State (NSW) Commercial and Industrial Code
This Code permits minor development of retail, commercial, office, warehouse and light industrial sites and premises. It includes provision for change of use within the various categories of use across all of NSW. The Code is brought into operation under the SEPP – Exempt and Complying Development Codes 2008.

State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP)
A mandatory planning policy created by the Department of Planning, a SEPP can apply across the whole state or to specific places, sites or types of development.

State (NSW) Housing Code
A Code outlining how new houses, alterations and additions can be approved as complying development within 10 days, provided they are within certain zones and of a minimum site size (200 sqm). It also establishes how around 50 different types of minor improvements and development around the home, such as garden sheds or rainwater tanks, can proceed without planning or construction approval as exempt development. The Code is brought into operation under the SEPP – Exempt and Complying Development Codes 2008.