Exempt & Complying Development

Before you start

Before you start building it is important to determine what type of planning approval you need, if any. Development can be undertaken using three planning avenues:

  • Exempt Development;
  • Complying Development; or
  • Development Application.

Following is an overview of development that may be constructed as exempt development or complying development; please review this information to assess whether your proposed building works meet these development controls.

If your proposed work does not meet the criteria detailed in the following sections then you will need to seek general development consent by means of lodging a Development Application with Council.


Exempt Development - Requires No Approval

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 outlines various forms of development that may be constructed as either ‘exempt’ development or ‘Complying Development’ (see the following section on requirments for complying development for details).

Structures constructed as exempt development are usually smaller projects that do not require any approval due to their low-impact nature and scale, so long as they meet all of the development standards listed for the type of work.

Additional forms of exempt development to that listed in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 have been included in The Hills Local Environment Plan 2019

To assist in understanding the exempt development requirements and limitations visit Planning & Environment NSW's website to seek information regarding exempt development for residential, commercial and industrial sites. Some of the information provided includes:

  • Advertising & Signage
  • Aerials, antennae & dishes
  • Balconies, decks, patios & pergolas
  • Carports
  • Driveways, pathways and paving
  • Retaining walls
  • Fences
  • Hot water & solar systems
  • Privacy screens
  • Rainwater tanks


Complying Development - Requires Approval

Complying Development is a fast tracked approval process that involves combined planning and construction approval. For further information about complying Development please review the following fact sheet or contact Council’s specialised team, The Hills Certifiers for further information on 9843 0301 or visit HillsCertifiers.com.au.

Fact Sheet - Complying Development(PDF, 1MB) 

More information is available from the NSW Planning Portal.


Unauthorised or illegal building

The Hills Shire Council is committed to monitoring unauthorised or illegal building works. It is an offence under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979 to undertake building works without the required approvals, when an approval is required. Penalties for a breach of the Act include on the spot fines and may include prosecution. Council’s action against a breach of the Act is determined on a case by case basis.

If you witness suspected illegal building works you can report it to Council by contacting Council's Development Monitoring Team on +61 2 9843 0555 or report it online here.