What is a Development Application (DA)?

A Development Application (DA) is a formal request for consent to carry out development. This type of Development Approval is the most common way of getting development consent. Development Applications are suitable for more complicated developments that don’t meet the requirements for Exempt Development or Complying Development.

A Development Application consists of a collection of documents (including application forms, site plans, consultants’ reports and the like) and is submitted to your local Council.

For some forms of development, the development application process can be swift and simple. However, for more complex applications, it can be a lengthy, time consuming and frustrating process. There are a few types of development that can be particularly complex (and generally apply to commercial and industrial, rather than residential, development):

  • State Significant Development – a range of projects, including mining, industrial, waste, energy, tourism and infrastructure, are considered to be of state significance if they are over a certain size and/or situated in sensitive environmental areas. These projects are assessed by the States Department of Planning and Infrastructure instead of your local council.
  • Integrated Development – some projects require a permit from another State Government Agency, which will be included in the development approval. For example, subdivision for housing in a bushfire prone area will require authorisation from the Rural Fire Service.
  • Designated Development – listed in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation or in a LEP or SEPP, these projects are generally high-impact or located in environmentally sensitive areas. Consent is usually granted by the local council.

If you would like some assistance with this process contact us here.

Do I Need A Development Application (DA)?

You will need to lodge a Development Application with your local council if your proposed works don’t meet the requirements for Exempt Development or Complying Development. Almost all commercial and industrial developments require a Development Application to be lodged with your local council.

Examples of work that would require a Development Application include, but are not limited to:

  • Subdivision
  • Boundary adjustments
  • Building a three storey house, row of townhouses or apartment block
  • Most additions and alterations to heritage items
  • Establishment of use, most changes of use  and changes to operating hours
  • Construction of new commercial and industrial buildings
  • Any works that increase the floor area of an existing commercial or industrial building
  • Adding windows or doors and making external additions to an existing commercial or industrial building

If you would like some assistance with this process contact us here.

Can I Do A Development Application Myself?

Yes, you can do your own development application, though we would always recommend obtaining professional advice (town planner) specific to your own situation, especially in the early stages of your project.

How Do I Lodge a Development Application (DA)?

You will need to provide the required information for lodgement with your local council. The documentation required varies dramatically depending on the scale of your project and which council you are lodging your application in.

Every Development Application must include the following:

  • Application form – available from your local council’s website
  • Owner’s consent form – if you are the landowner, you will need to sign this form. If you are leasing the land, you need to obtain the consent of the land owner before lodging your DA, no matter how minor the work is. Forms are available from your local council’s website
  • Statement of Environmental Effects – a document outlining your project’s compliance with all the relevant state, regional and local legislation, policies and plans
  • Payment of DA fees – these are set by your local council and depend on the size and scope and cost of your project

A number of other documents may be required depending on the type of development you propose. Most DAs involve some form of building work, so are required to include architectural and landscape drawings such as:

  • Site plans
  • Floor plans
  • Elevations and sections

Specialist studies may be necessary for your DA, depending on the location of your property and type of development. Your local council or a planning consultant can advise you on what reports will be required. It may not always be clear at the start of your DA process which studies you need. Sometimes a site inspection will reveal something previously unknown, or council might decide extra reports are necessary. Examples of specialist studies include:

  • Arborist’s Report
  • Bushfire Report
  • CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) or Safer By Design Report
  • Disabled Access Report
  • Erosion & Sediment Control Plan
  • Fire Safety Schedule
  • Geotechnical Report
  • Statement of Heritage Impact

Each local council has its own requirements for the format in which Development Applications are lodged. As a general rule, you will need to submit a minimum of 3 copies of most of the required documents. Some councils have requirements for electronic lodgement, either by web, email or disc.

What Happens After I Lodge A Development Application (DA)?

Generally, after a DA is lodged, the process is as follows:

1. Your DA will be placed on public exhibition. This allows interested parties, such as your neighbours or local businesses, to view your development plans and raise any concerns.

2. Council assess your DA against the relevant controls, including State Environmental Planning Policies, Local Environmental Plans and Development Control Plans.

3. If your DA fails to comply with one of the controls, this doesn’t mean it will be automatically refused. Council will undertake a merit assessment to decide whether the positives of your approval outweigh the negatives.

4. If your DA is successful, you will be granted development consent. There may be some conditions of consent imposed, such as works that must be carried out before occupation or materials that can be used.

5. If your DA is unsuccessful, you can request for council to review the determination (with or without amendments to your original DA) or lodge an appeal at the Land and Environment Court.

A very small number of commercial and industrial developments – in industries like mining, waste, energy and tourism – are assessed by the States Department of Planning and Infrastructure if they are considered to be of state significance. Some projects – such as those involving state heritage items or in industries like mining and fishing – may also require a permit or approval from another state agency.

How Long Does It Take To Get Development Approval?

In 2010-2011, councils took an average of 68 days to process a Development Application. You can find detailed statistics on development assessment processing times for your local council at the Local Development Performance Monitoring section of your States Department of Planning and Infrastructure website. Each year, the DP&I publishes a report and accompanying data on the number of Complying Development Certificates and Development Approvals issued each year, along with average processing times and the value of development.

The time it takes for your DA to be approved can vary depending on a number of factors. Some of these factors are within your control. Unfortunately, others are not.

If you’re carrying out development in one of many councils which took over 100 days on average to process Development Applications last year, your DA process may take longer than most.

If your development is particularly complex and your Development Application includes a number of documents such as geotechnical reports, bushfire reports, traffic reports or arborist’s reports, development assessment is likely to take longer than average.

You can minimise the processing time of your Development Application by ensuring that all the necessary documentation is included when you lodge your DA. On average over one third of all DAs are returned to the applicants for further information (known as “stop the clock”), adding an average of 47 days to the development assessment process.

A town planner can provide expert advice on the documentation you will require for your DA. This can help to ensure a smooth process, greatly reduce the risk of “stop the clock” and minimise the overall time it takes for your development to be approved.

Once you have Consent (Development Approval), prior to starting construction you will need to apply for a “Construction Certificate” (Construction Approval).

If you would like some assistance with your Development Application contact us here.