Exempt Development

What is Exempt Development?

Exempt development is development that has minimal impact on the local environment and does not require approval.

Exempt development can be carried out in most parts of the local government area, except for environmentally sensitive land, national parks and some land containing heritage items. Exempt development must also meet the specified development standards in the legislation (e.g. maximum heights, location, size etc)

The requirements for most exempt development are contained within  State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) (referred to on these pages as 'The Code SEPP').

Is my development 'exempt'?

The Department of Planning have released a version of a web tool titled  Interactive Buildings that simplifies the requirements for exempt development on residential, commercial and industrial properties. Using the tool is as simple as:

  1. Select the 'View List' option, this will prompt you to agree to a set of terms in order to access the 'Development types' page.
  2. Click on the property type (e.g. residential, commercial or industrial).  If the option for a ‘commercial’ or 'industrial' property is not available for the development type, this means exempt development for that development type is not available on that ‘type’ of property.
  3. Review the requirements listed.

The site provides you with diagrams of structures and definitions of planning terms that aim to translate planning jargon into ‘plain english’.  The ‘Interactive buildings’ tool also contains the criteria for solar energy systems (e.g. hot water systems, solar photovoltaic electricity generating systems, solar air heating) contained in the  Infrastructure SEPP.

Alternatively for residential development the  Electronic Housing Code (EHC) can assist you to identify what exempt development can be carried out at a specific address.  The EHC will provide you with a pdf report of the requirements for your records.  It is recommended that you save a copy of this report for your records.

The EHC only contains information on the Code SEPP and does not address the other planning instruments.

The development isn't exempt development. What do I do?

If your development doesn't meet the requirements for exempt development, you may be able to apply for either a complying development certificate or for more complex developments, a development application. More information about these requirements is available in the  complying development and  development applications sections of this web site.

Do I Have to notify Council of exempt development?

No, but is always advisable to inform your neighbours of your intentions.

Want to know what you can change on a property without any planning approval?

Input address on the following State Government link  Interactive Buildings

This site will tell you what building controls need to be met for a particular type of development. It covers fences, flag poles, rainwater tanks, carports, building alterations, sheds, etc.  If you cannot meet all of the building controls listed, you will need to submit a relevant application to Council. If you need more advice, please book a  duty officer call back request.

What common law and other legislative requirements might apply to exempt development?

In addition to the requirements specified for development under this code, adjoining owners' property rights, the applicable common law and other legislative requirements for approvals, licences, permits and authorities still apply.

If the development is in proximity to infrastructure, including water, stormwater and sewer mains, electricity power lines and telecommunications facilities, the relevant infrastructure authority should be contacted before commencing the development.

It is recommended that you contact any relevant authority to determine any requirements.  Some of Authorities you may be required to consult with or gain consents from are listed below.

  • Stamping of plans by Hunter Water
  • Stamping of plans by Mine Subsidence Board. A list of  deemed approvals (i.e. that do not need referral to the Mine Subsidence Board) are available from the Mine Subsidence Board. For more information please contact the Mine Subsidence Board.

Permits from Council, including a  Section 138  approval under the Roads Act for any proposed driveway (Type 1) or a road opening permit to carry out work on, over or under a public road or footway/verge area e.g. for connections to public utilities and infrastructure, and/or the connection of stormwater pipes to Council easements or kerb and gutters. For more information call Council's depot on 4974 6000.

The legislative requirements specifically highlight the adjoining owner's property rights and the need for persons carrying out development to comply with common law and other legislative requirements.

Please note: The information contained above is not legal advice. It is to assist you in planning decisions. The Council recommends you seek professional advice and refer to relevant legislation.