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All you need to know about Exempt Development

© Copyright 2021 All Right Reserved.Building or planning approval that is not needed for some minor building works or renovations is called exempt development. The low-impact development done in certain industrial, commercial, and residential properties are the simplest explanation for exempt development.

A building or planning approval is not needed as long as the proposed works meet all SEPPs or State Environmental Planning Policies’ relevant standards. The significance of any planning is environmental matters that fall under the jurisdiction of the SEPPs.

It was in 1993 that NSW introduced exempt development. This did away with the rigorous approvals concerning certain low-impact types of development. The awareness of both exempt development and complying development seemed the best solution for reducing the demands of multiple development applications.

However, certain conditions, foremost of which that any development creates minimal environmental impact, is the main objective of exempt development. Specifically, exempt development is not allowed on land that is:


  • State Heritage site or an interim heritage site listed on the SHR or State Heritage Register or fall under the Heritage Act 1977
  • A critical habitat that falls under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 or the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
  • A wilderness area that is protected under the Wilderness Act 1987


Types of Development allowed in Exempt Development


Exempt development allows industrial, residential, and commercial properties a range of minor developments. The exempt development allowed with these properties includes:

  • Temporary Structures and Uses to include specific events such as temporary use of marquees, filming, and builder’s tents and sheds
  • A broad range of construction work that falls under the General Exempt Development
  • Common business signage and signs that meets the specifics of the Advertising and Signage Exempt Development

Some of the common improvements that can be categorised as types of exempt development include:

  • Artworks and sculptures
  • Playground equipment
  • Access ramps
  • Letterboxes
  • Tennis courts
  • Air-conditioning units
  • Rainwater tanks
  • Poultry and fowl houses
  • Carports
  • Hot water systems
  • Fences
  • Garden sheds
  • Window repairs


Specific Exclusions for Exempt Development


Some types of development are specifically excluded from exempt development. This includes land development that:

  • Create a negative impact on the area

For instance, constructing a carport on land identified as a local heritage item is not allowed as exempt development. This is to protect the character of the heritage sites.

  • Are environmentally sensitive

The best way to protect environmentally sensitive land is not to allow the building of any hardstand spaces or driveways on them. Building on sensitive land cannot be identified as exempt development.

  • Located between a foreshore building and waterline


Contacting an experienced and qualified professional such as an accredited certifier, or town planner, or your local council can help you determine whether the development you are planning comply with exempt development.

The role of a building certifier is to ensure that building requirements are met before he/she issues a building approval certificate. However, a previous development application requirement for the building work that was not done will prohibit a certifier from issuing a building approval.


Exempt development usually involves smaller construction and building projects. Yet, building a carport or any house extension can become a big headache when your area falls under some restrictions. Contact us at Vivid Home Builders Hervey Bay for us to help you get approved.



Jessie Kennedy

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