Planning Terms

City Planning Works
Planning Terms

Complying Development (see also Exempt Development)
Low-impact development which meets specified development standards is 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.

Development Application (DA)
Application to carry out work or use land or premises.

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

District Planning Panels (formerly Joint Regional Planning Panels)
Projects over $20 million, or infrastructure projects of more than $5 million) are considered by the District Planning Panels, which take development approval decisions out of council hands. A District Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission usually chairs the meetings. Panels comprise three members including the chair.

Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act)
The principal act of the NSW Parliament regulating the planning and development approval process.
Environmental Planning Instrument (EPI) A statutory plan approved and published by the Department of Planning, it includes LEPs, SEPPs and REPs. Compliance is mandatory, subject to a limited right to exceed mathematically expressed controls such as height.

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.

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)
An LEP defines the land use zoning and development status of all sites within a local government area (LGA). The principal statutory instrument regulating land use and development, it states the objectives of each zone and lists uses which are prohibited, permissible with consent, or permissible without consent.

Local Government Act
The principal Act of the NSW Parliament, this 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 since a limited number of councils have been amalgamated.

Principal Certifying Authority (PCA)
The Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) is responsible for inspecting building and subdivision work during the construction phase of 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. There is no time which must be met by council. 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 modifications to a development which is substantially the same 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.

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 (250 sqm). It also establishes how 41 different types of minor improvements 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.