Below are some common questions I am asked by customers at work and I have provided answers based on the SEPP Exempt & Complying, which applies to the entire New South Wales state. For all scenarios mentioned below please refer to the SEPP legislation by clicking here to check whether it applies to your specific proposal.
The Department of Planning has produced very useful diagrams explaining the processes to determine whether a proposal is Exempt or Complying Development. Download these PDF files below.
Exempt and Complying can get complicated, so here are some simple scenarios which can assist you.
How large can I build a deck?
Maximum 20 square metres in area but the deck must comply with other conditions such as setback and height controls.
Can I replace my old boundary fence?
There are separate Exempt controls for fences forward of the building line and fences behind the building line. The general controls allow a 1.8 metre high timber fence to be constructed without Council approval. It is highly recommended that you discuss your plans with your neighbour. For specific questions about dividing fences please download a very useful fact sheet by clicking here.
What can I build in my backgarden without Council approval?
Structures you can build include a pergola, cabana, retaining wall and a timber boundary fence. Note all these types have their relevant design controls so refer to the SEPP or contact your local Council.
Can I install skylights to provide light to a storage space in the roof?
Skylights can be installed without Council approval if they satisfy the development criteria. However, a storage space/attic room will need Council approval as this does not comply with reconfiguration controls. This is a very common renovation which often does not go through Council approval and is only picked up down the track.
Can I operate a home business?
There are some businesses which can operate without Council approval. These are specified as either home business, home industry or home occupation. If you are living in an apartment building it is advisable to liaise with the strata/body corporate prior to commencing the business.
Can I open a new food business under Exempt Development?
No. You will need to apply for a Complying Development or a Development Application. Complying Development is a faster option, but you will need to check which type of development the proposed business will fall under.
An existing sign is fixed outside my shop. Can I replace the sign?
Under the SEPP you can replace an existing sign but this needs to have prior Council approval. The new sign cannot be any larger than the existing sign. If these two conditions and others are not met, you will need to lodge a Development Application.
In all cases mentioned I suggest you either contact your local Council or the Department of Planning on 9228 6333 for assistance.