Do I need development approval?

There are a number of home improvements and minor developments that can be completed without approval in NSW.

Some developments that may be exempt include garden sheds, carports, farm buildings, decks, minor internal and external building alterations and the change of use for a building. In relation to Heritage Items or within a Heritage Conservation Area, exempt developments are generally located in the rear yard of the property and can include water tanks, access ramps, pergolas and shade structures. You can Apply for Minor Works or Maintenance under the Heritage Exemptions.

An exempt development can be undertaken if it satisfies all setbacks, size limitations and other criteria listed in the State Environment Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008. If the development requires clearing or pruning of any vegetation you must obtain a permit to remove the vegetation before work commences.

Exempt building work must be structurally sound and meet the Building Code of Australia. Exempt buildings can't be located over a sewer or storm water main, easement or effluent irrigation area. Notably, an exempt farm building must be ancillary to an agricultural use of the landholding on which it's situated.

If your development doesn't satisfy all of the exempt development criteria, you'll need planning approval by lodging a Development Application or a complying development certificate application.

Exempt Solar and Wind Systems

Some small scale electricity generating works such as roof top or stand alone solar and wind systems can be installed without development approval. These must meet the criteria in Clause 2.41 of State Environmental Planning Policy (Transport and Infrastructure) 2021.

Advice Service

To check if a development is exempt, visit our We're to help on planning matters page. Alternatively contact the duty officer (Planning or Building) on 02 6643 0200 or visit our customer services centres at Grafton or Maclean from 8:30am - 11am weekdays.

Before you dig

Even if you don't need formal approval to build, you always need to check what's under ground before you dig. This is to avoid your development getting close to services (eg. pipes and cables) which can be costly to you and potentially dangerous to the digger.

To check Clarence Valley Council Services (eg. water and sewer mains) use Clarence Online Mapping or lodge a Water/Service Service Location Form.

Council may have a plumbers 'work as executed' plan of the sewer and the stormwater pipes around your building (if supplied by the plumber). Lodge a Request for Information.

To check other services (eg. telecommunications) use the Dial before you Dig online services.

  Useful Information

View examples of exempt development at the NSW Planning Portal.

Lodge a Development Application