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There are essentially two forms of approvals that apply to building/altering a commercial or residential building in NSW. These are Development Application (DA), and Complying Development Certificate.

What is a DA and when will you need to apply for development approval? 

A DA is the process of approval for your building project whereby Council assess the application on its merits. The criteria for assessment is based on applied community standards, planning and development legislation and Council requirements.

A DA can take more than 120 days in some instances, depending on the issues to be considered, and the Council’s application of regulations and requirements. Also, as part of this process, a DA notification period applies. This process involves council writing to neighbours to inform them of the intended development, and allowing them to respond in writing with any objections.

Following approval of your DA, the next step is to obtain a Construction Certificate (CC). A CC must be granted before any building works start, and ensures the proposed construction is compliant with the approved DA and any conditions applied to that approval. A CC can be provided by your local council or a Private Certifying Authority (PCA).

What is a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) and what are the pros and cons of this type of approval?

A CDC is a streamlined process specifically for buildings that are of low impact to the community and, as the title suggests, must be in compliance with specific regulations, including floor size, building heights, site coverage controls and block size. Neighbour notification is required out of courtesy only under a CDC. The approval process time is legislated at 10 days (2-3 weeks generally), however there is more lead up work required for a CDC submission compared with a DA.

In addition a CDC is a complete approval and a further application to commence construction (Construction Certificate) is not be necessary. The information put together as part of the CDC allows for the regulations to be assessed all in one process.

While this can be seen as a quicker option in getting your new home built it is a very black and white process. A DA process will allow some grey, some discussion, and some compromise in achieving the desired outcome.

Often when a client comes through our doors, we neither recommend a DA nor a CDC until we know what is it they are wanting to achieve. With ongoing discussions and design development, we can then ascertain if a CDC is appropriate or if A DA will be required. Beyond this, and with requirements for bushfire consultants and heritage concerns for example, a full DA will be sought.

For more information on DA and CDC differences and requirements, please contact the office on 9651 3999.