All about DAs

A Development Application (DA) is a formal request for consent to carry out your proposed development. You’ll need to submit a DA if your proposal doesn’t meet the criteria for exemption.

The DA approval process takes into account all the various local, state and federal planning laws that are in place to manage the social, economic and environmental impacts of a new development.  Not only do these laws protect the overall look of our landscape, they ensure your plans don’t impact negatively on the environment or your neighbours.

Whatever your proposal entails, you’ll need to know whether approval is needed, and what restrictions apply. 

  • There are different types of development that determine whether a DA is needed.

  •  If you do need approval, you'll need to lodge an application through the Planning Portal. This can be a full Development Application (DA) or an application for a Complying Development Certificate (CDC).

  • If you are not sure if you need approval or not, call our offices on 02 6643 0200.

Understanding development

Development is the collective term for making changes to your land, buildings, or the way they are used. 

A development may be any of the following:

  • Installing a swimming pool

  • Renovations to an existing dwelling or building

  • New dwelling or building

  • Industrial estate.

  • Subdivision

Some proposals require us to issue a Development Approval via the DA process, while complying developments we can fast-track through our system. Others are classed as exempt and don’t need our approval at all.

Development types

How your proposed development is classified will tell you whether a DA is needed. A high proportion of the proposals we review are relatively easy to process as they’re classified by one of these three categories:

Exempt: Some small scale and low impact developments such as decks, fences, bbqs, pergolas, privacy screens may not need Council consent if your proposal meets specified criteria.

Complying: Your proposal must meet all of the relevant development standards nominated (eg height limits, floor space ratio, distances to boundaries etc) and comply with the Building Code of Australia. If it is in line with these pre-determined development standards then it may be able to be certified without the need for a DA - eg. a swimming pool. This fast-tracked process combines planning and construction approval, and requires you to lodge an application for a Complying Development Certificate (CDC).

Local:  Where your proposal doesn’t fit either exempt or complying criteria, you’ll need to lodge a DA.  This sometimes includes notifying surrounding neighbours about what you’re planning.

Other projects may also be classified as Integrated, where another authority such as the Rural Fire Service (RFS) is involved in the approval process, or Designated, where the proposal has the potential for significant environmental impacts. 


The DA process


  • Consult our Local Environmental Plan and development control plans.
  • Speak to our Duty Planner or Building Surveyor. You can call them on 02 6643 0200 or visit a council office from 8.30am-11am weekdays.
  • Get a DA application fee quote.
  • Attend a pre-lodgement meeting(PDF, 419KB) to discuss your application with a Town Planner, Engineer and Building Surveyor. This 45-minute meeting is to discuss key issues relevant to the assessment of a proposal, and may help applicants identify issues that need to be addressed in a DA. An upfront fee of $320 is charged for this service.

Book a pre-lodgement meeting 


First, see our DA information packs and checklists for the forms you'll need to lodge via the NSW Planning Portal.

The DA fee will depend on the type of development you apply for. If you lodge your application via the portal, an invoice will be sent to you with the BPoint payment details. You can track your application progress online. 

Note: We'll tell you what is necessary for your application - only some application types are required to be advertised on our website and/or notified to adjoining landowners. Referrals might be made to other professional council staff, and/or other government agencies such as DPIE, Transport NSW, DPI.


Some of the things we consider include:

  • how the development complies with the Clarence Valley Local Environmental Plan 2011 and any applicable Development Control Plan.
  • the site's suitability for the development.
  • the impact of the proposed development on the environment.
  • any submissions made as a result of the exhibition and referral process.
  • the public interest (is this of benefit or detriment to the community as a whole?) 

We might need additional information from you, or ask for amended plans. This may be due to submissions received during an exhibition period, or because necessary information is lacking. If information is required, the officer will contact you by phone, email or via the portal.


After the assessment has been completed the application may be approved under Delegated Authority, or refused with good reason.

Generally, an application is recommended for refusal on the basis that it has generated significant community concern, or substantially varies a Development Control Plan, which must be determined by Clarence Valley councillors at a regular council meeting. A report is prepared for the next available council committee meeting. As an applicant, you would be advised by letter of the meeting date, provided with a copy of the council report and given the opportunity to make a deputation in person or by your representative.

On average, Clarence Valley Council determines 96% of Development Applications as approved under Delegated Authority.