Development includes a range of activities such as:
- Use of land
- Subdivision of land
- Construction of a building or structure
- Works associated with an existing building or the demolition of a building
Most building and demolition work requires Council or Certifying Authority approval. Exceptions exist for minor development which is classified as exempt development or development permitted without consent by a planning instrument such as the Hilltops Local Environmental Plan 2022.
What are unauthorised works?
Unauthorised works are regularly discovered through Council’s normal operations.
They may also be brought to Council’s attention during the property exchange process or if we receive a complaint from a neighbouring property owner or interested party.
Unauthorised works may include activities or works that don’t:
- Have the required approval (such as development consent)
- Meet the conditions of an approval (such as working outside specified hours stated in a development consent)
- Adhere to relevant planning provisions (such as conducting a business in an area where it is not permitted, or illegal vegetation/tree removal)
- Adhere to relevant legislative provision (such as unauthorised land clearing)
Unauthorised work can range from minor breaches with little or no environmental harm, to significant breaches that aimed to get an outcome that would never have been granted approval had a proper application been made.
Do you suspect unauthorised works?
If you notice or suspect unauthorised building works or a non-compliance with a development consent, report it to Council as soon as possible.
When reporting possible unauthorised works to Council you are required to provide your name, contact details and information about the situation so that Council has a clear and justifiable basis to commence any investigation. Council may need to contact you before, during and after the investigation.
Council will handle your name and contact details in line with privacy legislation.
If the unauthorised works are associated with building works on a development site, you should contact the appointed Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) in the first instance.
If Council is the PCA or if there isn’t one, Council staff will investigate and respond to the complaint.
If the PCA is a private certifier, Council will advise:
- The PCA of the nature of the complaint and allow them to respond
- The complainant of the name and contact details of the PCA.
If you are unsatisfied with the response from the PCA, you may elect to raise the matter with the Department of Fair Trading – Building Professionals Board and/or the NSW Building Commissioner.
What action will Council take?
There are a range of enforcement actions that Council may take when unauthorised development breaches planning law.
- Seeking a voluntary written undertaking from the alleged offender to cease the unauthorised development
- Issuing a notice or order to stop work, demolish, alter, repair or remove the unauthorised structure/work
- Issuing Penalty Infringement Notices (a fine)
- Starting legal proceedings in a court
Council exercises discretion when deciding how to deal with unauthorised development and building/subdivision work.
We take into account all relevant information including:
- Available evidence
- The environmental harm and public safety risks
- Cost to the community of any action
- Circumstances of the individual case
- Public policy
- Precedent considerations
What happens to unauthorised works?
Council may give favourable consideration to a Building Information Certificate application.
A Building Information Certificate takes into consideration whether:
- Council has granted approval for the use of the unauthorised works or structure
- The unauthorised works or structure satisfies relevant construction standards including the National Construction Code (NCC)
If these factors can be satisfied, Council may allow the unauthorised works to remain.
If the unauthorised works do not meet relevant planning controls or approvals, or fail to satisfy relevant construction standards, you may be required to demolish them.
Applying for a building certificate
The following information is required:
- A completed Building Information Certificate application form
- Payment of the application fee and additional fees (equivalent to fees for a Development Application and Construction Certificate had they been lodged prior to construction)
- Works-as-Executed architectural/structural engineering plans and specifications
- Structural Engineering Certificate
- Survey Report prepared by a Registered Surveyor
- Plumbing Certification (where required)
If a Building Information Certificate cannot be issued Council will take action to have the unathorised structure demolished.
To apply for a Building Information Certificate, please make an application by way of the NSW Planning Portal.