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Understanding Sydney’s Development Application Process


Building custom homes means there’s a lot of information to navigate, particularly when it comes to planning and getting approvals in Sydney. Getting through the Development Application is a 6-step process. Here’s a simple breakdown of everything you need to know about Sydney’s Development Application process.

1.   Pre-lodgement

This is the front end of the Development Application process. The idea is to have an assessment-ready application to submit to the council. Pre-lodgment involves a few considerations to be made:

       Setting up your team includes architect/building designer, land surveyors, town planners, engineers and others.

       Planning controls can be obtained via the planning certificate or purchased directly from the council.

       Site Analysis: This is a plan formulated to show the key characteristics of your site and its relationship to the adjoining land. The information includes the path of the sun, slope of the land, location of buildings and other key features. A site analysis is carried out by an architect, designer or a draftsperson.

       Cost should factor in all possible expenditure into account, including the Development Application fee, construction certificate fee, water, and other service connections.


Preparing your DA

The exact information accompanying your DA will depend on your proposal and the site for your custom home. Some of this would include:

       The owner’s consent if you’re not the owner

       A Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE)

       Site survey

       Site analysis

       A BASIX Certificate. This is an energy efficiency report for a new home or alterations and additions greater than $50,000 that reflects its sustainability

       Landscape, drainage and other plans

       Specific technical reports required by State agencies


2. Lodgement

The DA process will officially commence at this stage. This is where you will lodge your DA with the council. Ensure the application includes:

       Council’s DA form and checklist

       Any necessary specialist reports

       All matters required for a DA as listed in the EP&A Regulation

       The DA fee

The council will check all the details once you lodge the application. It’s important that you submit all necessary information as this will save you time and money in the later stages.


Following the lodgement, a formal neighbour notification will take place. This is done so as to ensure any potential issues could be raised and addressed.

Assessment officer

You will also be allocated an assessment officer as the key point of contact. It’s recommended that a future ‘call back’ date is set up when your assessment officer first reaches out to you. Other key points of contact throughout this process are:


       Site inspection

       ‘Call back’ date

       Council seeking additional information

       Council advising you of its decision


3. Assessment

All DAs will be formally assessed by councils. As per section 4.15 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979, there are six specific aspects that the council should look into:

       All plans and policies that apply – State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPPs), Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) and Development Control Plans (DCPs) (NSW Government guide)

       Impacts of your proposal on the natural and built environment, along with the social and economic impacts in the locality

       How your site suits your proposal

       Submissions, particularly from neighbours and/or other groups

       Comments or agreements/approvals from any NSW Government agency

       The broader public interest


If available, you can check your council’s online DA tracking system to monitor the progress.

4. Determination

At this stage, one of three things could happen. One, you will be given a development consent where your DA is granted with conditions. Two, your DA is refused with reasons. Three, you’re given deferred commencement consent. This is where consent isn’t in operation until one or more important matters are addressed.


The development consent is a legal document and construction that must adhere to the conditions specified. A development consent typically lasts for 5 years unless specified.

5. Construction Certificate

Next, you would need to obtain the Construction Certificate, either from the council or an accredited certifier. This will include detailed engineering plans for your custom home.


Additionally, you would need to appoint a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) to monitor construction. This is followed by giving your council and PCA two days’ notice prior to commencing work.

6. Occupation Certificate

The Occupation Certificate enables authorisation of occupation and use of a new building/building section. For this, the PCA should be satisfied that the development meets the required standards. While the specifics will depend on the occupation certificate, a general set of regulatory standards would be that:

       Development consent is in force

       The design and construction of the building is consistent with the development consent

       Pre-conditions specified in the consent are met

       A Construction Certificate has been issued

       The building is suitable for occupation (in accordance with its BCA classification)


The Occupation Certificate is the final step of the DA process. Once you receive this certificate, your custom home is good to go.

Let Provincial Homes help

Still have questions about getting the DA process right for your custom home? Talk to us. Provincial Homes has been proudly serving Australians for decades.


If you’re interested in finding out more about our custom homes, contact us here or visit one of our display homes.

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