What is a D.A?

D.A is short for Development Application. It's the process you may have to go through to legally be allowed to "develop" a plot of land.

Basically, the term "Development" can be defined as a use or subdivision of land, and as construction, alteration or demolition of a building.

So, if you are going to build something on your property or develop your land you might need Council approval first.

The first thing you need to know is if your proposed development is 'exempt'. If it is, you won't need approval from us.

If your development is not 'exempt', it might be a 'complying' development. These require a 'Complying Development Certificate' (CDC).

If your development is neither 'exempt' or 'complying', it will require a full Development Application.

On this page:

Exempt or Complying?

Most types of building, subdivision and demolition work require a D.A to be submitted for Council approval, unless it meets the criteria for exempt or complying development.

Exempt Developments - These require no approvals. 

Examples include: Dwelling repairs, minor internal alterations, minor outdoor structures such as sheds and playground equipment, fences, and home-based businesses. 

Complying Developments - This means the proposal is suitable for its location and complies with specific development standards. 

Examples include: New dwelling construction, dwelling alterations, garage / carport structures, swimming pools, and industrial or commercial change of use. 

These proposals will require a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) to be issued by Council or a private certifier before work commences.

If the proposal does not classify as exempt or complying development, then a development application will be required before you can commence works. 

You can find out if your development is exempt or complying in two simple ways:

1) - Use the OneGov Electronic Housing Code

2) - Use our Planning Enquiry tool

The D.A Process

The basic stages of a development application are explained in order below:

Stage 1 - Preliminary Assessment

Because development is a very complex process, we strongly recommend getting help from professional consultants when preparing your development application. You should also discuss your proposal with a Council planning officer before you submit the application to Council.

A preliminary assessment is an informal meeting between the landowner/developer and officers from Council at our offices in Forster. It allows an open discussion about your proposal and any potential issues the landowner/developer may need to address within a development application.

A preliminary assessment is generally recommended for larger development proposals such as tall buildings, commercial, industrial and multi-lot subdivision applications.

The easiest and best way to proceed is to book a preliminary assessment with Council's Development Assessment Panel (DAP) on any Tuesday morning at the Forster Office.  Council will require you to have draft plans of the development available in order to provide constructive advice on your proposal.

To arrange a preliminary assessment with DAP, please contact us.  You will need to provide the property details when making this appointment.

This preliminary assessment with DAP is based on a review of the issues from the information provided to us.  It isn't a detailed assessment of Council's requirements, or an indication of the final decision.  It is designed purely to help and assist you. Any comments made by, or actions taken by Council Officers during the meeting, does not amount to a decision under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

If you are unable to attend a meeting with Council officers, you can fill in a preliminary assessment application form. A small fee is charged upon lodgement of a preliminary assessment application, because formal written advice is provided in response to the application.

Zoning and Planning Controls

You must check the zoning of your property, and find out what types of development are allowed. It's important to know what development issues are considered before you spend time, effort and money preparing a development application. 

The "zoning" of the property will dictate the circumstances where dwelling/houses may be built on land. To check you have the right to build a house on the land, a Request for Determination of Existing Parcel Rights (Dwelling Entitlement Advice) is also available from Council's Customer Service Centre which can be mailed or faxed upon request.

You can confirm the zoning of your property by buying a Planning Certificate (Section 149 Certificate). Zoning gives you a guide on what types of development are allowed or not allowed on your land. Check your zoning here.

The planning certificate will also show you what other planning controls apply to your property.  These controls need to be considered when preparing your development application because they guide the design of the building and other related issues. 

A Council duty Planner is available for advice Monday to Friday between 8:30am to 4:30pm, excluding public holidays.

Stage 2 - Lodging a Development Application

The Development Application Matrix Guide and the Development Application form  tell you what information you need to send us with a development. We have also produced a Guide to Lodging a Development Application.

A completed Development Application form must be accompanied by:

The application form must be signed by the property owner and include payment of the fees. 

It's possible your application may trigger the "Great Lakes Development Control Plan Water Sensitive Design" chapter. If this is the case, you will need to complete the relevant checklist below and submit it with your application:

Fact Sheets referred to in the Development Application form are:  

Other fact sheets are available. Please call our customer services team if you require further guidance.

Special Reports or Studies

Some development applications will require reports and studies to be carried out by appropriately qualified experts. Examples of the range of reports andstudies that could be required include:

  • Environmental - If the development may affect important environmental issues, such as wildlife or rainforests you may be required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, Flora and/or Fauna Study.
  • Engineering - If flooding, stormwater drainage and vehicle access issues are relevant to your application, Detailed Engineering Plans may be required as part of your development application.
  • Waste and Recycling - Garbage storage and disposal for larger developments and events may require consultation with Council's Waste Management Section.
  • Public Health and Food Safety - Development applications with health and safety requirements such as hairdressers, tattoo, restaurants and take away shops, must consult with Council's Environmental Health Section.
  • On-Site Sewage Management - Applications with an on-site sewage disposal system needs consultation with Council's On-site Management Section and a geotechnical report. 

Building in Bushfire Prone Areas

We must think about the impact of bushfire on any proposed development. If the proposed development is in bushfire prone land, it may be referred to the NSW Rural Fire Service. Visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au for more information.

Designated and Integrated Development Applications

These are highly specialised and complicated applications.

In basic terms, a "Designated development" is one which is of wider state or national significance. "Integrated Development" is where third party referral to other Government departments is required for special reasons.

If your application is a Designated or Integrated Development, additional information and additional fees may be required. If you believe this may apply, you should have a preliminary assessment meeting with Council before lodging your application.

Stage 3 - Assessment of a Development Application

The processes of assessment, reporting and determination of a D.A must conform with the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 and the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulations 2000.

We must by law take into account all supplied information, comments received from notification, reports, rules, policies and documents.

Notification of a Development Application

Council's Notification Policy determines when and how a development application is notified to adjoining property owners and/or in the local newspaper. The process is normally as follows:

a) Written Notice sent to Adjoining Property Owners - This is required for all matter requiring development consent within:

  • Rural zones, except subdivisions of less than 50 lots.
  • Rural/residential zones, except subdivisions of less than 50 lots.
  • Residential zones, except subdivision of constructed buildings.
  • Commercial zones adjoining a residential zone or residential property.
  • Industrial zones adjoining a residential zone or residential property.
  • Special uses zones adjoining a residential zone or residential property.
  • Open space zones adjoining a residential zone or residential property.
  • Environmental protection zones.

If you are making a submission, you will need to include a "Political Donations Declaration".

b) Advertisement in the Local Newspaper - This is required for the following types of development:

  • Designated development.
  • Tall buildings.
  • Residential flat buildings with 50 or more dwellings.
  • Shops or commercial premises where the gross floor area is 1500 square metres or more.
  • Subdivision of land into 50 or more allotments.
  • Tourist or recreation facilities, showgrounds or sportsgrounds needing 50 or more car parking spaces.
  • Premises licensed under the Liquor Act 1982 or Registered Clubs Act 1976 catering for 100 or more people.
  • Places of assembly or places of public worship.
  • Refreshment rooms where the gross floor area is over 300 square metres.
  • Hospitals with 100 beds or more.
  • Stock and sale yards.
  • Education or childcare facilities for 50 or more students or children.
  • Enlargement or extension of such education / childcare facilities which will cater for 20 or more additional students or children.
  • Developments specified in SEPP 15, SEPP 30, and SEPP 33.
  • Activities requiring development consent within environmental protection zones (excluding houses).
  • All proposals where a Species Impact Statement is required.

c) Internal or external referral - As part of the development assessment process, development applications may be referred to other internal sections inCouncil, or other public authorities for comments or advice.

Different Levels of Reporting and Determination

The reporting and determination of a development application to Great Lakes Council may be carried out at one of the following three levels:

a) Delegated Level - When a development is considered to be of minimal social or environmental impact within a location and has not received any major objections during the notification process. They may be authorised by the Planning Assessment Manager, Building Assessment Manager, Director of Planning& Environmental Services or by the Mayor of Great Lakes Council.

b) Development Control Unit Level - When a development is considered to warrant additional consideration prior to determination, or has been subject to objections during the notification process, and when the applicant or objectors wish to speak to the determination panel on a particular issue.

The Development Control Unit includes the Mayor, Council directors of planning and engineering, the Planning Assessments Manager and the Building Assessments Manager. The Unit meeting is open to the public, and any applicant or objector to an application may speak at the meeting.

c) Elected Council Level - A development application goes to this level if it has caused major objections during the notification process, or if it's considered tohave some social, economic and/or environmental impact.

Ordinary Council meetings are open to the public and any applicant or objector to an application on the agenda may speak at the meeting.

Stage 4 - Determination of a Development Application

Development applications are determined in accordance with Section 80 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment (EP&A) Act 1979 and may take one of the following four forms: 

1) Approval - Generally subject to certain conditions and with a maximum time limit of five years to start work on the development. It may require additional information to be submitted to Council. 

2) Deferred Commencement - This is given when development applications have particular issues that need to be resolved within a fixed timeframe before the approval becomes 'active'.

3) Staged Consent - Given when a large development is proposed to be completed in stages. Council may approve the application in those stages.  The D.A may also set "concept proposals" for the site which can be approved as concepts. Detailed proposals for separate parts of the site are subject to subsequent D.As. The application may set out detailed proposals for stage 1.

4) Refusal - Council refuses the development application.

Development Consent Conditions

All approved developments are normally subject to development consent conditions. These conditions of consent may need:

  • Minor modifications to the proposal.
  • Operational conditions relating to hours of business or construction methods.
  • Submission of additional information, such as a landscaping plan prepared by a qualified horticulturalist.
  • Payment of Section 94 Contribution fees and bonds.
  • Lodgement of additional applications or certificates of compliance (such as MidCoast Water, Telstra or Country Energy).

Related Applications

Examples of additional applications which may be required as a condition of development consent include:

  • Construction certificate - A construction certificate is required for any development incorporating any form of construction.
  • Subdivision & Engineering applications.
  • Application to install an on-site sewage management system - An on-site sewage management system may be required where the development cannot connect to the normal sewer.

Review of Development Application Determination

After the decision has been made, the applicant may apply for a review of the decision, or a modification to the development consent conditions. 

In accordance with Section 82A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the applicant may apply for a review of development application determination other than:

a)  A determination to issue or refuse a complying development certificate.

b)  A determination in respect of designated development.

c)  A determination in respect of integrated development.

This application for review must be lodged with Council within six months of the original determination. There are three possible outcomes:

1) Council may support the original determination.

2) Council may overturn the original determination.

3) Council may support the original determination for approval and vary the original development consent conditions.

If you wish to lodge an application to review a determination, you should discuss this with a Development Assessment Planner prior to preparing the application. 

Review a DA or Modify Consent

You can apply for a modification of development consent when any of the following applies:

  • You believe there has been a minor error or miscalculation of some kind.
  • The development involves minimal environmental impact.
  • You are proposing modifications.

The Modification of Development Consent form can be accessed electronically.  Alternatively, you can contact Council's Customer Service Centre to have an application form mailed or faxed to you. They will also advise you of the relevant fees.  It's a good idea to discuss lodgement of an application to modify development consent with a Planning or Building Officer prior to preparing the application. 

Appealing a Determination

You are able to appeal D.A decisions under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 and Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulations 2000.