Making a Development Application

Any new development or renovation can be an exciting prospect; however, the Development Application process can sometimes be confusing and overwhelming. The following steps provide an overview of the development application and assessment process.

For additional information and resources, see also Your Guide to the DA Process.

If you are ready to lodge your development application see Step 4 – How to Lodge a DA.

Step 1 – Do I need Council approval?

For development of a minor nature, you may not require approval to undertake the work as it may be exempt development.  See Exempt Development to find out whether your proposal is able to be considered as exempt development.

If your proposal does not meet the criteria for exempt development, you may be able to get a fast track approval either through Council or a private certifier using the Complying Development Certificate process.  See Complying Development  to find out whether your proposal is able to be considered as Complying Development.

Where your proposal does not meet the requirements for exempt or complying development, you will need to submit a Development Application (DA) to Council for planning approval. If you get approval for your proposed development, you will also need to get a Construction Certificate from either Council or a Private Certifier before any works can begin.

Step 2 – Where do I start?

Before you start preparing your application it is important to have an understanding of the characteristics of the land on and surrounding your site, as well as the planning controls (rules) that will apply to your development proposal.

The characteristics of your land, and the planning rules that apply to the development proposed, will affect what development can occur on your land, and what plans and documents will be required to be prepared prior to submitting your development application to Council.

The cost of any building project can be expensive. At this point you might need to factor into your budget the cost of services from planning professionals , application fees, development contributions payable, state government levies, water and other service connections. For more information see Fees and Quotation.

For more information on where to start see Development Advisory Services.

Step 3 – What information is required?

DA Checklist

Council has prepared a number of development application checklists for various types of common development. The checklists provide some guidance on the information that is required to be submitted with a DA, and should be read in conjunction with Councils DA Glossary.

The checklist is divided into documents which are “always required” and “may be required”, though the description of the document will give an indication on when a document would be required to be submitted with an application.

DA Glossary

The DA Glossary provides further description for each document type, and specifies documentation requirements such as who the document can be prepared by, or what is to be included.

When selecting which checklist to use for your DA consider if you intend to carry out more than one development type with your application. If you were to, for example, submit an application for a dwelling house and swimming pool, you would need to provide the information that is required from both checklists.

Application Form

All applications are required to be submitted through the NSW Planning Portal. Again, further information on the application form contents and requirements can be reviewed in the DA Glossary.

Electronic Copies

Council prefers electronic copies of ALL documents (including application forms, plans and associated expert reports).  These can be provided on a CD, DVD or via email. For more information please refer to the File Format and File Name Requirements for Digital Documents Fact Sheet.  Where you do not provide an electronic copy of your application documents a file scanning fee will apply.

Step 4 – How do I Lodge a DA?

Before lodging, ensure you have completed the appropriate DA checklist, and provided the required plans and documents.

Once you have all your documents ready you can lodge your application with Council through:

  • NSW Planning Portal – This is an online portal facilitated by the NSW Government where you can submit your DA to Council online. You will first need to create an account on the Portal as an applicant. For information on how to register for, and use the planning portal, see the NSW Planning Portal Quick Reference Guides.

NSW Planning Portal Note

To register for a NSW Planning Portal account, go to the NSW Planning Portal Home Page and select My Account. See the Quick Reference Guides for step by step instructions on the registration process.

Once you have an account you will be able to lodge the development application though the portal:

  • The quick reference guide will provide instruction on creating a new development application and will require you to upload your application documents. You will need to upload your application form and DA checklist in addition to the plans and documents prepared for your application.
  • Council will then review the submitted application for completeness.
  • You will then be contacted via the portal and notified of one of the following:
  1. Your application is not yet complete and additional information is required.


  2. Council has accepted your application and fees can now be paid.

Once the fees have been paid, the application is then considered to be lodged with Council.

Step 5 – What happens next?

On lodgement, your application is allocated a DA number (eg. DA0123/20) which you can use check key steps in the assessment process via Council’s DA tracker  .

Initial Review

Once your DA is lodged your application will be reviewed by Council’s Initial Review team. At this stage, a preliminary review of your application will occur. This review may reveal that additional information is required.

Councils Initial review team will send you a letter to either acknowledge your application has been lodged, or request additional information. You will have 21 days to respond to any request for additional information.


Many applications will require input from professional experts within Council and external of Council.

Within Council your application could be referred to a Building Surveyor, Development Engineer or Heritage Advisor to name a few. External of Council, your application may be required to be referred to Government Agencies such as the Roads and Maritime Services or the NSW Rural Fire Service. Their advice will be included as part of the overall assessment of an application.

In some cases, such as where an application is classified as Integrated Development approval is required from an external agency before Council can give consent to an application. Terms of approval may be received from the external agency which will be included as part of the assessment of an application.

Notification for Public Comment

Your DA may be required to be notified to adjoining property owners. If so, it will be made available for public comment for a period of time. Generally applications which are required to be notified, will be available for public comment for a period of 14 days, however in certain circumstances can be extended to 30 days (depending on likely impacts on the development).

The notification process involves:

  • A letter is sent to owners and occupiers of adjoining and nearby land, including a copy of your plans;
  • copies of plans are available for viewing at Council and online at Council's DA Tracking page;
  • depending on the type of development a site sign may be placed on the site, and/or, the DA may be advertised in the local newspaper

Further information on the notification requirements can be found in Councils Development Control Plan 2002 – Part A, Chapter 3 - Notification of Development Applications.

Any submissions (responses) will be reviewed by the assessing officer and you will be given the opportunity to respond to any issues raised before your DA is determined.

Note: If your application is amended during the assessment process, the changes may be required to be notified again, for which there is an associated fee.

Assessment Officer

Once the administrative matters relating to referrals and notification have been completed, your application is now allocated to an assessment officer for review.

Step 6 - Assessment

Your application will be assessed by a qualified Council professional such as a Town Planner or Building Certifier (depending on the development type).  When a complete application is received the assessing officer will commence consideration of your DA and this involves the following steps:


Throughout this process you may be contacted where there is an issue with your proposal which is required to be addressed, additional information is required, or a submission has been received for you to consider.

The assessment officer will contact you if required, however if you would like to discuss a matter with the assessment officer, you can contact Customer Service at Council on 02 4560 4444.

Step 7 – Approval or refusal?

Most applications received can be approved, however the common reasons that DAs are refused are:

  • Insufficient information
  • Prohibited development
  • Non-compliance with planning controls
  • Unacceptable impacts on the environment
  • Inappropriate development on that land
  • Public interest

The way in which your application is finally determined will depend on the nature of the application, variations to planning controls and submissions received.  If your proposal is straightforward and not subject to significant public comment it will generally be able to be dealt with under delegated authority (i.e. by Council's Assessing Officer).

In some circumstances, for example, if your application seeks to vary a development control as set out by the Hawkesbury Development Control Plan 2012 (DCP), the application will need to be referred to the Development Review Panel for determination.  The Development Review Panel consists of senior Development Services staff within Council who will review your application, and the report prepared by the assessing officer, before making a determination.

Other applications are required to be determined by the Hawkesbury Local Planning Panel (HLPP) if they meet the criteria set by the NSW Minister for Planning. For more information on the HLPP please refer Hawkesbury Local Planning Panel on Council’s Website.

In some cases applications are required to be determined by the Sydney Western City Planning Panel (SWPP) if they meet the criteria set by the NSW Minister for Planning. For more information on the SWPP and criteria, see About Planning Panels.

Once a decision is made and the application approved, you will be sent a copy of a Development Consent Notice that will contain conditions of consent and a copy of the approved stamped plans. Should your application be refused, a refusal notice will be issued advising of the grounds for refusal.

Step 8 – Can I appeal the decision?

If your application has been refused or you are not satisfied with any of the conditions that have been included in the consent notice you are able to apply for your application to be reviewed under Section 8.2 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.  In conjunction with this request you are able to modify your proposal or submit additional information not originally provided.  Your request is to include the following:

  • A completed Application Form ,
  • Statement detailing the reasons why the review is being sought,
  • Plans of your proposal (these may include changes to address reasons of refusal or achieve design improvements,and,
  • Any additional information in support of your application.

The Section 8.2 application must be determined by Council within 6 months of the date of the original notice, therefore it is advisable to lodge the application for review as soon as possible.  A review is unable to be made of a Complying Development Certificate or an application for Designated Development or Integrated Development.  Prior to requesting a review, it is advisable to seek advice from a planning consultant or obtain legal advice.

Alternatively you may appeal to the Land and Environment Court within 6 months of the date of the original notice.  Division 8.3 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 provides further information on your Appeal rights.  Prior to considering this option it is advisable to obtain advice legal advice.  The Land and Environment Court website provides further information in relation to the appeal process.

Step 9 – What other approvals do I need?

Conditions of Consent

Once you receive your development consent you need to read through and gain an understanding of what conditions have been imposed on your development approval. Your development consent is a legal document and is extremely important – you must build according to the conditions imposed to avoid possible penalties or having to take costly rectification measures.

Construction Certificate

If your proposal involves building works you MUST apply for and obtain a Construction Certificate  (CC) approval BEFORE you are able to start building or earth works.  The development consent will state whether or not a Construction Certificate is required. Generally a development that does not require Construction Certificates is limited to *demolition applications and applications involving a change of use of a shop or office where there are no building works proposed.

A Construction Certificate can be obtained either from Council or an Accredited Certifier (private certifier).  A list of Accredited Certifiers can be obtained from the NSW Fair Trading. Council has a team of building and engineering certifiers who are experienced, qualified professionals.  You can discuss your CC with Council (and get a competitive fee quote prior to CC lodgement) by contacting the Customer Service Centre on (02) 4560 4444.

As an owner, you should carefully read and discuss the conditions on the development consent notice with the certification and building team members you have decided to engage, as the conditions may modify the proposal you submitted. Some conditions are mandatory and must be applied on all development consents e.g. your house must meet the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

Appointment of a Principal Certifier

Prior to the commencement of any work applicants must appoint a Principal Certifier (PCA).  A PCA oversees the development’s construction phase and completes mandatory building inspections, known as critical stage inspections, to make sure that building standards are met. A PCA can either be Council or a private certifier.  If Council is not the PCA Council must be advised who has been appointed as the PCA.  You can complete Councils Notice of Appointment of Principal Certifier form.

Intention to Commence Works – Construction or Demolition

Irrespective of who has been appointed as the PCA, you must give Council two days’ notice of your intention to start work, either in writing or using Councils Intention to Commence the Construction of a Building  form.

Note: This notice is also required in conjunction with applications involving demolition where no Construction Certificate is required and no PCA is appointed.

Step 10 – What if I make Changes (after DA approval)?

You must consult with Council or your certifier PRIOR to any physical changes being made to your approval. There are penalties applicable for altering approved development without consent.  It is important to note that if you propose any changes before and during the construction stage that these must be approved before the modifications are made on site.  This is irrespective of whether or not the changes would provide a better design outcome.

Modification Application

If you decide to alter part of your development you will require a further approval from Council under Section 4.55 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (Section 4.46 for development approved by the Land and Environment Court).

The process is similar to that associated with a development application and requires the lodgement of a formal application and documentation relating to any proposed changes.  The opportunity for modification under Section 4.55 or 4.56 is limited to changes that would result in a development that following the modification would result in substantially the same development as was originally approved.

If Council is not satisfied that the modifications applied for will result in substantially the same development as was originally approved, a new development application will need to be submitted to Council for assessment.

The modification process does not enable new components to be added to your original proposal.  For example, if you have an existing approval for a dwelling house and decide that you would like to include a new shed, you will need to submit a new development application or complying development certificate to gain approval for that structure. It is unable to be approved as a modification to your dwelling house approval.

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