When development approval is required


Information in this topic is worded in a general way to suit the circumstances in all Australian states and territories.

You will find an explanation of words in italics in 1.2 Planning language.


To ensure that cities and towns develop in a way that is consistent with the strategic land use plan and land use controls, most new development requires a development approval before it can commence. This also gives protection to property owners and the community against dangerous, illegal and undesirable developments.

Each state and territory in Australia has developed its own distinct planning system and the terms related to development and development applications differ between them. However, in general terms there are four types of development:
  • Development that is prohibited and no development application can be lodged the development because it is not appropriate in the location;
  • Development that does not require development approval and no land use controls apply (also known as exempt development). Typically, this includes minor structures such as garden sheds. There is no development application required and therefore no formal opportunity for the community to comment on this type of development;
  • Development that does not require development approval but some standards apply (also known as self-assessable development). Examples could be a house in a residential area or a home business. There is no formal opportunity for the community to comment on this type of development; and
  • Development that requires development approval and therefore the submission and approval of a development application before it can start (also known as assessable development). Within this category are two types of developments – those that require public notification and those that do not require public notification. Where public notification is required, there is a formal opportunity for the community to comment on this type of development.

You can find out more about what types of development require development approval in your area by researching the planning scheme, or by enquiring at your local council.

Related topics:
More on-line resources:

Planning scheme and development applications:
  • Your local council’s website

Planning legislation, planning process, and planning instruments in each state or territory:
We will build this list over time and invite you to contact us with suggested links you are aware of that can be added to this page.

Want to know more?
Is there something more you want to know about this topic? Contact us with your ideas for future inclusion in TOWN PLANNING FOR EVERYONE resources.

© The Planning Academy 2011
Last updated: 9 Dec 2013

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