As part of its current planning reform the NSW Government is proposing to introduce a consistent set of development codes that will be applied across all councils within the State. It is intended that the introduction of unified compliance codes will assist in providing a simplified and speedy approval process for anyone looking to undertake development work on their property.

The first stage of the draft code was released recently and outlines code criteria for:

  • new single storey dwellings on allotments exceeding 600m2
  • alterations and additions on allotments exceeding 600m2 (including carports, garages and swimming pools)
  • internal renovations to two storey buildings
  • exempt developments on residential and rural zones, and
  • commercial and industrial exempt and complying development

In simple terms, the code-compliance approval system operates such that if a proposed development complies with the nominated pre-specified development standards then the application is able to be processed at a much quicker rate.

This method of processing applications has actually been in place for almost 10 years. Now, however, only around one tenth of all development proposals that are assessed in NSW currently use this method. With the introduction of a State-wide Housing Code the State Government aims to increase the number of “complying developments” to the 50 percent mark.

Perhaps the main reason why the usage of the code-compliance system is so low is that a lot of councils are still insisting on receiving a “full” development application (DA) for most types of residential building work, sometimes even including minor renovations.

For development proposals that meet the codes, whether under the existing or soon to be introduced criteria, the application can be approved in as short as 10 days. The processing and approval of a DA currently takes on average 78 days for a new home and 57 days for renovations and extensions.

Following the introduction of the NSW Housing Code, any development designs that do not meet the applicable codes will still be able to submit a proposal to the council using the existing DA procedures but will have to wait the extended period of time for the application to be processed.

The NSW Housing Code will outline different sets of codes for various dwelling types, breaking them into categories based on building structure such as one or two storey, duplex and terrace as well as taking into account various lot sizes.

The code also nominates that there are some developments that are exempt, and as a result it is possible to carry out these developments without needing to employ the resources of an accredited certifier or council approval. Such exempt developments include BBQ’s, pergolas and fences. All rainwater tanks up to 15,000 litres and most solar water heaters are also considered exempt development.

It is expected that this initial section of the code will be adopted by the end of the year. The codes for smaller lots sizes and two storey dwellings will be released over the coming months.

The lawyers at The Quinn Group are able to provide you with information regarding any development and property related matters. If you would like more information or wish to receive some advice from our team of professionals please call us on 1300 QUINNS or submit an online enquiry form.