Development Approvals

Planning permission is needed if you want to:

  • Build something new
  • Make a major change, such as building an extension
  • Change the use of your building.

A building certification is needed for:

  • A new building
  • An extension
  • Alterations to the structure of the building
  • Essential fire services

Exempt Development:

There are certain types of developments that may not require planning permission or can be undertaken as complying development. Information relating to these development types is available from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. For more information you can also call the State Environmental Planning Policy Hotline on 1300 305 695.


Step 1.Inspections and Certificates

You need building certification to check the work you're doing reaches the standards required under Council's standards and the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

A building certification is needed for:

  • A new building
  • An extension
  • Alterations to the structure of the building
  • Essential fire services 

It also places responsibilities on builders and developers – called ‘principal contractors’ - who carry out the overall coordination and control of the building work on the site.

Before Building

You are responsible for ensuring the following activities have occurred before starting any construction:

  • Either a Development Application (DA) and a Construction Certificate (CC) or a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) must be issued. Development consent is issued by Council or a consent authority; Construction or Complying Development Certificates are issued by council or accredited certifiers.

  • A Principal Certifier (PC) must be appointed by the landowner (a builder can only appoint a Principal Certifier if they own the land). The Principal Certifier checks the building work at set stages of construction to ensure it accords with the development consent/complying development certificate and national building standards.

The Principal Certifier is a public official whose first responsibility is to meet public safety and regulatory requirements. You are responsible for other activities that must take place before work starts: 

  • You and the Principal Certifier must install and maintain a site sign on the development site (unless it involves internal building work not affecting external walls), and it is preferable that this is a joint sign. The sign must detail the contact information of the Principal Certifier and the Principal Contractor.

  • Your Owner Builders permit or licence and insurance details must be made available to be checked by the Principal Certifier.

  • You must ensure you have been given notice of required inspections for the building work. The landowner will inform you of this after they are notified of the requirements by the Principal Certifier.

During Building

You are responsible for notifying the Principal Certifier, at least 48 hours in advance, of when the building work has reached or will reach the appropriate stage for required inspections to take place.

The Principal Certifier (or another certifying authority with the PC’s agreement) will carry out the critical stage inspections and other inspections. These inspections cannot be missed.

You have a responsibility to ensure these inspections take place at the right time and that work does not start on the next stages without these inspections taking place.

If an inspection is missed:

  • The occupation certificate may not be issued at the end of the work, whether or not the work is otherwise satisfactory.

  • You may not receive final payment under your contract.

  • Disciplinary action can be taken against you if you have knowingly done any work before the Principal Certifier has made any required critical stage inspection or you have failed to give the required notification of an inspection.

  • The Council may issue a stop work order and order any problems to be fixed.

The following reasons are not considered satisfactory reasons for missing an inspection:

  • The builder being unaware they are to call the Principal Certifier for an inspection;

  • The builder giving insufficient notice to the Principal Certifier for an inspection;

  • The Principal Certifier being on holidays, and

  • The builder having someone else other than the Principal Certifier undertake the inspection without the Principal Certifier’s agreement. 

The Principal Certifier will keep a record of any missed inspections, including the principal contractor’s details.

Step 2.After Building

You must ensure any other relevant conditions of the development consent are satisfied.

The Principal Certifier will issue the occupation certificate (interim and/or final) as the work is completed.

For more information on Development Applications and Building Certification please email us at or call us on 9725 0222.

For more information on development exemptions please call the State Environmental Planning Policy Hotline on 1300 305 695.




Step 1.Prepare an Application

An application must address Council Policies and the relevant legislation.

Designs and plans need to consider the rules and regulations that apply to your proposal and you must identify the relevant ones before you can start your design process. Time can be saved by checking the controls before starting an application to prevent designs having to be changed later in the process.

Carrying out building works without approval can result in the imposition of fines, demolition of the unauthorised works and jeopardise the future sale of the property.

Step 2.Development Process

Discussing your ideas with Council staff will minimise the likelihood of you proposing to build something that Council is unlikely to approve, saving you time. Your initial enquiries should be with Council's Duty Building or Planning Officer at Council's Administration Centre.

Step 3.Consult with your Designer

Council encourages you to engage a professional to prepare your plans. The plans must contain all relevant information as outlined in Council's Development Application Checklist.

Investing in a draftsperson or architect will often produce a better design and clearer plans that contain all the information required.

Council cannot recommend architects, however, the following resources may help you find people with design experience. Whoever you choose, ask them to show you examples of their finished work before you employ them. Poor quality plans may result in rejection of applications or delays in processing time.

Useful resources:

Step 4.Involve your Neighbours 

Talk to your neighbours about your plans and consider their needs before preparing a final plan. You need to consider how your proposal will affect them; for example, are there any issues of buildings overlooking or overshadowing other properties?

Council may notify your neighbours, by letter, about your proposal. If neighbours have concerns about the proposal it could delay processing while changes are discussed, or lead to the refusal of your application. A co-operative approach in the early stages will help avoid this problem.

Step 5.Development Advisory Meetings 

Development Advisory Meetings (DAM), also known as “Pre-lodgement meetings”, are held between people intending to develop within Fairfield City and who are looking for advice and help from Council planning and building staff before lodging development applications.

Development Advisory Meetings help to:

  • Identify important issues that need to be considered and addressed in development applications;
  • Meet planning objectives in Council’s Local Environmental Plan and check that applicable Development Control Plans have been met and are understood;
  • Make the design and development assessment process clearer to someone who is developing in the City for the first time or for sites with exceptional characteristics such as heritage or environmental impacts, and
  • Minimise processing times and the need to modify proposals.

While every care is given to provide advice at Development Advisory Meetings, applicants must ensure they understand site constraints, zoning and development control requirements. It helps to engage professionally qualified people with a portfolio of successful and well-designed developments to prepare applications.

For additional information regarding Development Advisory Meetings please contact Council's Customer Service team on 9725 0222.

Step 6.Prepare your Development Application 

Once you have settled on a proposal and received your final plans from the architect, you are ready to submit your application and any accompanying forms to Council.

Useful resources:

Step 7.Make payment of the appropriate fees 

Fees are based on the cost of works. The cost of works must include labour and material costs.

If the application is not complete, Council may not accept it. Please remember that the standards for submission of applications exist so Council does not need to pursue information after applications are lodged.

Step 8.Understand the Approval and Conditions of Consent

After the assessment of your proposal and where an approval is granted, the development approval will have a number of conditions attached. It is crucial you read and understand all of them.

Failure to meet any requirements could see your development halted or fines imposed.

If you have any queries about any condition or the approval process in general please contact Council's Customer Service Team on 9725 0222.