Overview of Development Advice Services

If you are thinking about carrying out development on land in the Hawkesbury Local Government Area, a number of advisory services and resources are available to assist you.

Council’s online Development Application (DA) tracker is useful as a starting point to research the recent development application history of a property. You can also apply to obtain copies of documents held by Council under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 or GIPA Act.

Self Help - Guide to Development & the NSW Planning Portal

Another useful resource that explains the DA process in general terms is “Your Guide to the Development Application Process” issued by the (former) NSW Department of Planning and Environment in 2018.

The Guide is particularly helpful for:

  • People building a new home or planning a renovation.
  • Small-scale developers.
  • People preparing submissions on developments proposed in their area.
  • Real estate sales people (giving pre-purchase advice).
  • Project specialists (such as granny flat developers).
  • Those wishing to learn more about the DA and assessment process.

The NSW Planning Portal is a tool managed by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment that provides a variety of property information including:

  • Access to planning controls (i.e. zoning, height controls, heritage, and mine subsidence) and legislation that applies to properties across the State, including the Hawkesbury area.
  • Information on building or renovating.
  • Access to planning tools e.g. BASIX.

Using the portal to identify a property and accessing the relevant planning controls will assist you when preparing an application for Council.

Hawkesbury Local Environmental Plan 2012 and Hawkesbury Development Control Plan 2002 are also available on Council’s website.

However, the DA process can be complicated and it is recommended that you seek the services of suitably qualified and experienced professionals and technical experts to assist you.

Before engaging a suitable professional to work on your project:

  • Do some research to make sure they can provide the service you need.
  • Check they are properly registered/accredited and insured.
  • Obtain several quotes
  • Ask for details of similar projects they have worked on.

Council is unable to recommend particular experts, consultants or firms. However, there are useful online registers administered by the Planning Institute of Australia , the Australian Institute of Architects the Board of Surveying and Spatial Information and the Building Professionals Board.

Duty Officer Service

Enquiries seeking basic advice or information about fees and charges, forms, checklists and how to research/find information on Council’s website including using Council’s online DA tracker are generally answered by Council’s Customer Service Team.

If you have a general enquiry about a building or development matter that cannot be answered by our Customer Service Team you will be referred to one of Council’s other Development Advice Services. In some cases your enquiry will be dealt with by Council’s Duty Officer.   The Duty Officer is a planning professional who can help you identify the planning controls and policies that affect your property and explain the development application process. This service is for short enquiries and is free of charge. The Duty Officer cannot guarantee that a site is suitable for development or advise what the development potential of a site would be.

As the scope of the service is limited, the Duty Officer is unable to:

  • provide zoning information for a specific site (for assistance with identifying zoning, please refer to our section on zoning);
  • confirm whether a property is able to be sub-divided or boundaries adjusted;
  • confirm existing use rights, whether a consent has been secured or provide any legal advice;
  • provide any insurance related, property investment or financial advice;
  • confirm what approval process is required (exempt, complying or development application);
  • review plans or provide merit advice about proposed works (Council has a formal Pre-Lodgement Advice Service that can be used for this purpose - fees apply); or
  • provide specific advice about undetermined Development (or other) Applications that are currently under assessment. (These enquiries will be referred to the relevant Assessment Officer).

The Duty Officer is available as follows:

  • Phone calls – During business hours you can phone our Customer Service Centre on (02) 4560 4444. Enquiries referred to the Duty Officer are generally responded to within 2 business days.
  • Letters/Emails – You can send us written correspondence and we aim to respond within 10 working days of receiving your enquiry. If your written enquiry relates to a matter that is outside the scope of the duty officer service, Council will provide advice about our alternative fee for service options.

To assist Council deal with your enquiry efficiently, please ensure you provide:

  • your name and contact details;
  • the address and zoning of the property; and
  • details about the nature of your enquiry and what information you require from Council.

Please note that Council will not accept any legal or other implied responsibility if you choose to make important financial or other decisions based on advice from Council’s Duty Officer Service, Customer Service staff or any other Council Officer, whether provided verbally or by email.

If your enquiry is outside the scope of the Duty Officer Service, Council offers two types of cost effective paid advice services, namely provision of formal prelodgement advice  or a more general written planning advice service, that are explained below.

Formal Pre-Lodgement Advice

Council’s formal Pre-Lodgement Advice Service is a paid service available by appointment for all types of development, but especially encouraged for mid to large scale or complex developments, developments involving variations to development standards, proposals involving existing unauthorised structures, or circumstances where there are potentially contentious issues e.g. heritage or flooding.

This service offers prospective applicants the opportunity to attend a discussion meeting with Council’s professional planning staff, and receive written comments from Council on the technical and merit aspects of a development proposal. By seeking upfront advice in the early stages of a proposal, potential issues can be identified and addressed, thus reducing the likelihood of delays after a DA is lodged.

Note: Many developments lodged with Council require approval from third party agencies for example- NSW Rural Fire Service, the Office of Environment and Heritage or the Natural Resources Access Regulator. Applicants are encouraged to make separate contact with the relevant agencies as Council staff cannot provide specific details on the requirements of such authorities as part of its Pre-Lodgement Advice Service.

To request formal Pre-Lodgement advice please submit the following form accompanied by the relevant fee. Your request should also be accompanied by (as a minimum) concept plans including a site plan, elevations and floor plans, and a written explanation of the development. If subdivision is involved the proposed subdivision layout is required.

The more detailed information you supply, the more informed Council’s response will be. If plans/documents are unclear or inadequate, a meeting cannot be scheduled until satisfactory details are provided.

Other Written Planning Advice

Council’s written planning advice service is available for those who require research and/or interpretation of Council planning documents, policies and/or consent history or want detailed written specific planning advice about single or multiple issues. (Note there may be circumstances where Council is unable to provide the advice being sought for legal or other reasons and you will be required to obtain your own independent advice).

Your request must be submitted on the Request for Planning Advice form and should contain sufficient detail and include any relevant documents so as to ensure the request is clear. Fees are based on an hourly rate and are payable in accordance with Council’s adopted Fees and Charges, and the minimum fee (1 hour) must accompany this form.

Once your application has been reviewed a final fee quote will be provided which must be paid before the written advice is provided.

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