Complying Development Certificates for Dummies

Most people know that if you need to undertake renovations to your house of if you want to build a new house then you will need to get approval from the local Council. This process is called obtaining development consent and it requires the lodgement of a development application. This process can be a long process with the average approval timeframe being around 3 months! What is not common knowledge is that there is another pathway for approval…. the Complying Development Certificate or CDC!

What is a Complying Development Certificate?

In 2009 the NSW Department of Planning released a State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) titled State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008. This SEPP set a state wide standard for development that is exempt (meaning no approval required from Council) as well as setting controls and requirements for development classified as Complying.

Complying Development combines a Development Application and a Construction certificate but is for development with a much stricter set of rules and requires. Development under complying development must comply with a strict set of rules and if the development cannot comply with the rules then a development application is required.

Complying development, unlike development applications, does not necessarily need to be approved through the local Council but instead a private certifier can issue the approval. The difference between a development application and a complying development is that a complying development MUST complying with the requirements under the SEPP such as building setbacks, heights, site coverage and other standards. If the development cannot comply with the requirements under the SEPP then it cannot be approved under a Complying Development Certificate.

What type of development can be approved under a complying development certificate?

The NSW Planning are committed to trying to get the approval industry to move towards complying development and are releasing new types of Complying Development each year. The following types of development can be approved under a complying development certificate:

  • New Dwellings in residential zonings
  • Alterations and additions to dwellings in residential zonings
  • Minor internal alterations to residential developments 
  • Dual occupancies and town houses (only in certain Council areas)
  • New commercial and industrial developments
  • Alterations and additions to commercial and industrial units. 
  • Change of use developments (hair dressing, tattoo parlours, retail premises, business premises etc)
  • Secondary dwellings (granny flats)
What is the process for getting an approval through a Complying Development?

The first step to obtaining an approval is contacting Council and obtaining a Planning Certificate (S149 or a S10.7) which will provide the required information to assess whether a complying development would be permissible on the site.

The second step, if you already have architectural plans,  is contacting Outlook Planning and Development and obtaining a Complying Development Audit to determine whether your development could be approved under a complying development certificate.

The third step, if the audit comes back confirming a CDC can be approved for the development is to applying for a complying development certificate. If a CDC cannot be approved for the development then a development application would be required.

If you have any questions about Complying Development

Please contact us to discuss complying development for your development.


Our experienced town planners can provide you with expert advice to help you with your development: We offer the following services:

  • Feasibility reports
  • Pre-purchase reports
  • Unapproved works
  • Letters and advice
  • General town planning advice
  • Neighbour objection advice and reports


Get us to provide you with the report you need to get the job done! We provide the following reports:

  • Statement of environmental effects
  • Clause 4.6 Variation
  • Crime Risk Reports (CPTED)
  • Heritage Impact Statement
  • Social Impact Statements
  • Plans of management
  • Waste Management Plans


Let us help you obtain your approval! We provide the following approval services:

  • Lodgement of development applications
  • Project management of applications
  • Attendance at Council meetings
  • Rezoning Application/Planning Proposals
  • Masterplans

We have Town Planning Development Application Approval experts servicing these Central Coast Council Suburbs

Avoca Beach Bateau Bay  Berkeley Vale  Blue Haven  Budgewoi  Canton Beach  Charmhaven  Chittaway Bay  Copacabana  Doyalson  Empire Bay  Erina Ettalong  Beach  Forresters Beach  Freemans  Gorokan Gosford  Green Point  Gwandalan  Horsfield Bay  Kangy Angy  Kariong  Killarney Vale  Killcare  Kincumber  Lake Haven  Lake Munmorah  Lisarow  Long Jetty  MacMasters Beach  Mooney Mooney  Mount White  Niagara Park  Norah Head  Noraville  Ourimbah  Palmdale  San Remo  Saratoga  Shelly Beach  Somersby  Spencer  Tacoma  Terrigal  The Entrance  Toowoon Bay  Toukley  Tuggerah  Tumbi Umbi  Umina Beach  Wallarah  Wamberal  Warnervale  Wisemans Ferry  Woy Woy  Wyoming  Wyong

Key Services

Let’s work together

Have a chat with one of our planners today!

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