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Do I Need Approval?

Most development proposals need to obtain consent from Hilltops Council through the Development Application (DA) process before they can proceed.

However, some minor developments do not need consent from Council or may be eligible for a fast-tracked assessment as Complying Development. Find out if your proposal may fit into one of these categories below.

Development Without Consent

Not all development requires consent from Hilltops Council. Home occupations in a residential zone, environmental protection works in a village zone, or extensive agriculture (cropping or grazing of livestock) in a rural zone are low-impact developments listed by the Hilltops Local Environmental Plan 2022 as ‘permitted without consent’. These land use activities do not require development approval from Council.

However, some developments permitted without consent of Council may still need a licence, permit or other approval from other public authorities and may need to undergo an environmental assessment before approval can be given (e.g. works on a heritage building, installation of a bore or works on waterfront land).

Exempt Development

Some small-scale developments (e.g. residential decks, fences, letterboxes, pergolas, privacy screens, retaining walls) can be constructed as exempt development. Council approval is not required if your proposal meets specific development standards set by NSW legislation. The standards you must comply with for most exempt development works are listed in State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

Visit the NSW Planning Portal for more information on exempt development.

Complying Development

Complying development is a combined planning and construction approval for straightforward development that can be determined through a 20 day fast-track assessment by either Council or an Accredited Certifier.

Complying development applies to homes, businesses and industry. Examples include the construction of a new dwelling, alterations and additions to a dwelling, new industrial buildings, demolition of a building, shop fit outs and changes to a building use (e.g. new retail premises, café or restaurant).

A proposal must meet all of the complying development standards and comply with the Building Code of Australia to be eligible for fast-track assessment. Council and Accredited Certifiers do not have authority to determine applications that are not in strict compliance.

Visit the NSW Planning Portal for information on complying development.

Development Application

A proposal that cannot be categorised as permitted without consent, exempt development or complying development require development consent to be obtained from Hilltops Council through the Development Application (DA) process before they can proceed.

Building a new house or renovating your property is always exciting. However, the DA process can be confusing and overwhelming. Hilltops Council has developed a DA Guide and the NSW Government has developed ‘Your guide to the DA process – small housing development’, so the pathway to building your home or new business can be faster and easier.

Click here to plan your development. 

Before You Dig

Even if you don’t need development approval, you must check what’s under the ground before you dig. This is to avoid your development getting close to services (pipes and cables for example), which can be costly to you and extremely dangerous, indeed life-threatening, to the digger.

To check services near your development site, you can use the Dial Before you Dig online service.