Inner West Council


"Development" is widely defined and includes: making changes to a building, erecting a new building, occupying or changing the use of land or premises, subdividing land, erecting advertising signage, demolishing a building and, generally, "the carrying out of work". The approval process for certain types of minor and straightforward development has been streamlined by introducing "Exempt and Complying" development categories in a  State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) known as the  "Codes SEPP".  These categories of development are described below.

Exempt development

1. What is Exempt Development?

Exempt Development is minor development that does not require a development application. Examples include pergolas, cubby houses, small outbuildings and proposals to change the use of buildings in business or light industrial zones. Although you can carry out Exempt Development without lodging a formal development application with Council, you must first ensure your proposal meets the definition of Exempt Development (see below).

2. Requirements for Exempt Development

State Environmental Planning Policy ( SEPP) Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 ("Codes SEPP")  specifies "exempt development" types. The SEPP has state-wide application. Ashfield Council's Local Environmental Plan also lists certain types of developmet as "Exempt" including minor works to buildings affected by heritage controls. The Codes SEPP outlines various types of minor ancillary residential development (eg: decks, bbqs, pergolas).which are classified as exempt development and may therefore be implemented without any planning approval provided the requirements of the SEPP are fully complied with.

A copy of the Codes SEPP and information on the General Housing Code is available at

For further information please call the Department of Planning's Information Centre on  1300 305 695 or (02) 9228 6333.

3. What if my proposal does not meet SEPP requirements for Exempt Development ?

If your proposal does not comply with all of the requirements of the Codes SEPP,  then it is not exempt development. If this is the case, you will need to obtain development consent from Council for your proposal.

Complying development

1. What is Complying Development?

The State Environmental Planning Policy ("Codes SEPP") provides for approval of certain types of residential development such as detached single and double storey dwellings, home extensions and other ancillary development as "Complying Development" with a Certificate issued by Council or an accredited certifier within 10 days of application submission (if the development meets pre-defined requirements in the SEPP). The SEPP for Complying  Development is commonly referred to as the "Codes SEPP". Complying Development also applies to some  commercial or industrial development. For example, it can include uses such as a home business, strata subdivision, a change of use of an existing shop, a building to be used for educational purposes, an office or warehouse, new industrial building or demolition of a building. There are mandatory requirements in the SEPP that need to be met for a proposal to be approved as Complying Development. The Codes SEPP does not generally permit Complying Development in areas that are heritage listed (with some minor exceptions). In addition, complying development may not be possible on a flood control lot. A Complying Development Certificate is valid for 5 years from the date endorsed on the Certificate. The Certificate will not lapse if the development has been physically commenced before the time period expired.

Note: Ashfield Local Envirommental Plan 2013 (Schedule 3) also lists certain types of development as "Complying".

Ashfield Council can  provide information on a planning certificate (Section 149 Certificate) about land that is suitable for complying development. Please visit the Customer Service Team at Ashfield Council, send an email to or phone (02) 9392 5000 to obtain a certificate. Information about residential complying development categories is available at:

For more information call the Department of Planning and Environment's Information Centre on  1300 305 695 or  (02) 9228 6333.

2. What if my proposal does not comply with  Codes SEPP requirements for complying development?

The requirements for complying development are strict. There are no merit based considerations. Your application (plans and supporting documents) must comply with all of the requirements of the SEPP including land use zoning and heritage provisions. In the event the development does not meet Codes SEPP requirements for complying development, your application cannot be certified/approved. It is important to note that there is no right of appeal against the determination or a failure to determine or refusal to issue a Complying Development Certificate either by Council or an accredited certifier.

Complying Development and Flood Control Lots

1.  Extract - State Environmental Planning Policy – (SEPP)  - Exempt and Complying Development Codes 2008

Note: Links added by Ashfield Council to Maps do not form part of the SEPP.

3.36C Development standards for flood control lots

(1) This clause applies:

(a) to all development specified for this code that is to be carried out on a flood control lot, and

(b) in addition to all other development standards specified for this code.

(2) The development must not be on any part of a flood control lot unless that part of the lot has been certified, for the purposes of the issue of the relevant complying development certificate, by the council or a professional engineer who specialises in hydraulic engineering as not being any of the following:

(a) a flood storage area, (flood hydraulic categories map)

(b) a floodway area, (flood hydraulic categories map)

(c) a flow path, (flood extents map)

(d) a high hazard area, (provisional flood hazard categories map)

(e) a high risk area. (provisional flood hazard categories map)

(3) The development must, to the extent it is within a flood planning area:

(a) have all habitable rooms no lower than the floor levels set by the council for that lot, and

(b) have the part of the development at or below the flood planning level constructed of flood compatible material, and

(c) be able to withstand the forces of floodwater, debris and buoyancy up to the flood planning level (or if on-site refuge is proposed, the probable maximum flood level), and

(d) not increase flood affectation elsewhere in the floodplain, and

(e) have reliable access for pedestrians and vehicles from the development, at a minimum level equal to the lowest habitable floor level of the development, to a safe refuge, and

(f) have open car parking spaces or carports that are no lower than the 20-year flood level, and

(g) have driveways between car parking spaces and the connecting public roadway that will not be inundated by a depth of water greater than 0.3m during a 1:100 ARI (average recurrent interval) flood event.

(4) A standard specified in subclause (3) (c) or (d) is satisfied if a joint report by a professional engineer who specialises in hydraulic engineering and a professional engineer who specialises in civil engineering confirms that the development:

(a) can withstand the forces of floodwater, debris and buoyancy up to the flood planning level (or if on-site refuge is proposed, the probable maximum flood level), or

(b) will not increase flood affectation elsewhere in the floodplain.

(5) If a word or expression used in this clause is defined in the Floodplain Development Manual, the word or expression has the same meaning as it has in that Manual unless it is otherwise defined in this clause.

(6) In this clause:

"flood compatible material" means building materials and surface finishes capable of withstanding prolonged immersion in water.

"Floodplain Development Manual" means the Floodplain Development Manual (ISBN 0 7347 5476 0) published by the NSW Government in April 2005.

"flow path" means a flow path identified in the council’s flood study or floodplain risk management study carried out in accordance with the Floodplain Development Manual.

"high hazard area" means a high hazard area identified in the council’s flood study or floodplain risk management study carried out in accordance with the Floodplain Development Manual.

"high risk area" means a high risk area identified in the Council’s flood study or floodplain risk management study carried out in accordance with the Floodplain Development Manual.

 2. Ashfield Council - Explanatory Notes - Flood Control Lots

(i) If development is proposed on a flood control lot and the lot is within an area coloured on the Map as follows:

(a)   Pink – mainstream flooding & overland flooding;
(b)   Light blue – mainstream flooding;
(c)   Yellow – Overland flooding; and,

the proposed development does not meet all of the requirements for Exempt and Complying Development under Clause 3.36C of the SEPP (see above), a Certifier cannot issue a Complying Development Certificate.

(ii) If development is proposed within an area  coloured purple on the flood control lot map (“Overland Flood Study to be Undertaken”) a complying development certificate should not  be issued unless a certifier can ensure that all SEPP criteria have been met. Should this not be the case a development application may need to be lodged with Council.






Exempt Development

No approval required.

Minimal environmental
impact- not affected by heritage controls.

Must comply with
preset standards.


Complying Development

Needs approval by Council but could also
be approved by a Private Certifier.

Predictable and
manageable impacts - generally not affected by heritage controls.

Must comply with preset standards and conditions.
No merit assessment.