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Development Application Guide

What is a Development Application (DA)?

A Development Application (DA) is an application for consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979, to carry out development, but does not include an application for a Complying Development Certificate.

If you plan to carry out work on buildings or land, you may be required to lodge a Development Application (DA) and secure planning permission from Cumberland Council’s development assessment unit.

A DA is required so Cumberland Council can assess how much impact the proposed changes will have on the environment, local neighbourhood and other properties. Issues such as pollution, shadowing, traffic and privacy are taken into account.

When considering a DA, Council will assess whether the requested development fits with the regulations and guidelines applicable to the development.

Council can grant consent, or refuse to grant consent. If your DA is approved, Council is agreeing that the proposed development has been found to be acceptable. When building works are proposed, a Construction Certificate is still needed to begin building.

The requirements for lodging and processing a Development Application are set out in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979, and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation, 2000.

However when lodging an application with Cumberland Council you should refer to the most appropriate submission checklist for your development

Why do I need to lodge a DA?

By law, you need to lodge a DA to Council for developments that require consent under the relevant Local Environmental Plan and any other relevant environmental planning instrument, such as State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPS)

This will allow Council to assess whether a development:

  • Complies with the provisions of relevant environmental planning instruments and other planning policies and guidelines (e.g. Development Control Plans);
  • Is permissible and will appropriately use the site according to its zoning;
  • Is environmentally appropriate and compatible with surrounds.

DAs are lodged by the property owner or by the architect, town planner, engineer, builder or other person acting on the owner’s behalf. The applicant should be the most appropriate person you wish Council to deal with should we have any enquiries in relation to your DA.

What if my DA doesn’t comply with a guideline or control?

If your Development Application does not comply with the development standards detailed in the Local Environment Plan (LEP) then you will need to show Council that there are special circumstances which warrant variation of the control.

Cumberland Council’s authority to do this is laid out in within Clause 4.6 of the LEP and you will need to lodge a written request which seeks to justify the contravention of the development standard by demonstrating.

  1. that compliance with the development standard is unreasonable or unnecessary in the    circumstances of the case, and
  2. that there are sufficient environmental planning grounds to justify contravening the development standards

If your DA does not comply with the controls detailed in the Development Control Plan (DCP), Cumberland Council has the power to vary the controls if special circumstances or merits of the proposal warrant it. Please note this is not the same as varying a development standard set out in the Local Environmental Plan. Justification for non-compliance to a development control contained within a DCP will need to be included in the Statement of Environmental Effects.

Varying from the standards contained in an LEP or any DCP is not taken lightly. It is the responsibility of the applicant to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of the control;
  • Satisfy Council that the intent of the control will still be met despite non-compliance; and
  • Indicate the special circumstances that warrant variation of the control.

Notwithstanding any other provision of the plan, Council may refuse to grant consent to a development that may have negative impact to adjoining properties, such as site isolation, loss of view, loss of privacy or reduction in sunlight to the living areas of the adjoining property unless the applicant can demonstrate to Council’s satisfaction that:

  • There are no other design alternatives which would lessen impacts, or
  • There a special circumstances that warrant consent despite the impact.

Council must process any application, even if a control is not complied with. So before lodging any DA, discuss your plans with Council officers for further information and advice.

How do I lodge a DA?

Step 1: Confirm that your development requires you to lodge a DA.

Use the quick, simple and free Electronic Housing Code System (EHCS). The EHCS will advise you if your development is Exempt or Complying. 

  • If your development is Exempt, you can start works without engaging Council or a private building certifier. The EHCS will still provide a detailed report on any relevant development standards.
  • If your development is Complying, you need to employ Council or a private building certifier for a building certificate before starting works.
  • If your development is Not Exempt or Complying, you need to submit a DA to Council and get Council’s approval before starting works, either yourself or with the help of an architect, builder or other development expert.

Step 2: Refer to the relevant planning instrument, or document, for your site When planning a development, you should first read the relevant planning instrument, or document, for your site.

These documents describe the allocation of land for specific purposes. They set out controls, or rules, for things like building height and floor space ratio. These controls must be complied with.

Please note that State Government planning instruments may also apply, including State Regional Environmental Plans (SREP) and State Environment Planning Policies (SEPP).

For more detail on specific matters that development may need to comply with, you should refer to Cumberland Council’s Development Control Plans (DCPs). Cumberland Council has the discretion to vary the controls under special circumstances because the DCPs cannot anticipate every possible situation. This means there may be cases where strict adherence to a control is unreasonable or unjustified.

Other Council codes and guidelines may also be relevant depending on the type of activity being undertaken. If your DA doesn’t comply with a guideline, there may be steps you can take to get approval.

Step 3: Complete a DA form and supporting documents.

Please visit Development > Forms and Checklists for our DA form and checklists for supporting documents. Please ensure you complete the Political Donations & Gifts Disclosure Statements.

Disclosure of Political Donations

If you have made a political donation or gift of $1000 or more within the two years preceding the application, it must be disclosed with your Development Application. For more information, please see Register of Planning Matters.

Step 4: Consider a Pre-Lodgement Meeting.

Informal Pre-lodgement meetings

Before submitting a DA, you can discuss your proposal with our development experts in person at Council’s Customer Service Centre. Council officers can help guide you through what is permitted on a site and what sort of things the site’s controls and rules are trying to achieve. If you bring in your sketches or plans we can help you identify any changes that may need to be made to the development before lodgement.

You can see a Council Development Assessment officer without an appointment at Cumberland Council reception area, or please contact Council on 8757 9000 for a call back within 24 hours.

Formal Pre-lodgement meetings

Council particularly recommends that a pre-lodgement application be made for large developments, for developments in sensitive sites (such as contaminated areas) or developments that may produce issues for others.

Types of development in which a formal pre-lodgement application is recommended include Childcare Centres, Villa / Townhouse Developments, Residential Flat Buildings, Mixed Use Developments, Commercial Development and Industrial Developments.

A pre-lodgement application must first be made and the relevant fee paid.

Minimum submission requirements include 4 copies of a statement of the intended proposal and indicative plans of the proposal (sufficient for Council assessment officers to understand the proposal).

The more information which can be provided for the pre-lodgement application, the more advice Council officers can provide. Download the application form and checklist here.

After application is made, a meeting will be arranged at Council offices. These meetings will be attended by at least two Council officers.

After the meeting, formal written advice will be provided and will include information regarding the proposal’s compliance with Council controls, a summary of the major issues with the proposal and advice regarding specific information which will be required to be lodged with a Development Application.

The pre-lodgement meeting is not an approval but will assist you in deciding whether to proceed to a formal Development Application.

To book a pre-lodgement meeting, please contact our Development Services team via on 8757 9000.

Step 5: Submit your DA to Council with the appropriate fees.

Please visit Council’s Customer Service Centre.

What costs are involved with a DA?

The calculated fee is based on the estimated cost of work for the development.

For more information, please contact Council on 8757 9000.

How are DAs assessed and determined?

Cumberland Council assesses Development Applications in accordance with the Environment Planning and Assessment Act, 1979.

The following steps will apply to most Development Applications. However, please note that these steps do not necessarily occur one after the other and usually overlap.

1. The application is lodged and registered onto the computer system at Cumberland Council’s Customer Services Counter.

2. The application file is assembled and an electronic file is created. If notification is required, a notification schedule is prepared. If also required, a DA Notification sign is placed on site and the DA is included on the notification listing in the newspaper.

3. A preliminary review is undertaken by The Preliminary Assessment Review Team in their weekly meeting. They allocate the Assessment Officer (either a building surveyor or development planner) and an acknowledgement letter is sent to the applicant. This will include nominating the officer the application has been allocated and a contact number, identifying the major issues with the application and referring the DA to Council’s internal Departments. Each assessment officer will typically have 20 to 30 applications at any one time.

4. The notification period of either 14 or 28 days begins. A preliminary assessment by the Assessment Officer, including a site inspection, is made within 2 to 3 weeks of lodgement. The applicant is advised of any issues and may be requested to consider amendments. Please note there is an extended notification period over the Christmas / New Year period.

5. Those who are being notified receive a letter and reduced A4 size external plans (site and elevation) of the proposal. Full supporting material is available for inspection at Council’s reception. The notified person may or may not make a written submission either objecting or supporting an application.

6. The notification period closes and the Assessment Officer collects the advice of other Council Departments, any submissions received and any extra information from the applicant, if required. If significant amendments or changes are made to the DA the DA must be re-notified.

7. The Officer decides to either process the DA or to refer the application to Council. Officers have authority from Council to determine applications except in certain circumstances such as:

  • The DA has been called to a Council meeting for determination.
  • There are unresolved submissions that are unable to be determined under Delegated Authority.
  • The General Manager believes that the DA may have controversial effects (such as environmental concerns, policy precedents, rezoning)
  • A Councillor is the applicant or land owner.
  • The DA involves Council property, or Council is the applicant.
  • The DA involves demolition or major changes to a Heritage item.

8. The status of an application can be checked by looking at the online list or contacting the Assessment Officer.

9. The Assessment Officer finalises their assessment and prepares either a Delegated DA Report or Council DA Report, referring to submissions received and any draft conditions of consent or reasons for refusal. Council will notify individual correspondents to advise them when an application is determined or will go to a Council Meeting. Council meets once a month. A copy of the DA reports to go to a Council Meeting can be accessed the Friday before the meeting at Cumberland Council’s Customer Service Centre or you can view the meeting Agenda online.

10. Delegated Decision: The Assessment Officer determines the application under Delegated Authority and issues a Notice of Determination to the applicant.

Council (currently CIHAP) Decision: CIHAP determines the application at the Meeting. Applicants can address CIHAP, if they make a request in writing (fax, email or letter) to the General Manager that is received by 12 noon the day of the meeting.

CIHAP may decide to hold an inspection of the site before determining. If this happens, applicants are entitled to attend the meeting. A representative of the applicant and a representative of the correspondents are able to address the Inspection Committee. CIHAP will determine the application either by adopting the Officer’s recommendations or deferring the application for further discussion between the applicant and the Officer. Whether or not re-notification is needed can be decided either by the Officer or by CIHAP. A Notice of Determination is sent to the applicant.

11. Objectors (if any) are advised of the decision.

12. The applicant can request a Review of the Determination within 6 months, or apply for an amendment to the development consent (known as a S96 Application). A similar process to the DA process occurs for modification to consent. The applicant can also appeal the decision to the Land and Environment Court.

13. If the development consent is granted, the applicant applies to Council or a Private Certifier for a Construction Certificate in order to begin building.

Cumberland Council will contact individual correspondents to advise them when an application is determined or will go to a Council Meeting. Council meets on the once a month. A copy of the DA reports to go to a Council Meeting can be accessed from the Customer Service Centre the Friday before the meeting. Alternatively you can view the Agendas and Minutes on the Council website and at the Libraries. If you want to address Council about an application that has been referred to a meeting, you must inform the interim General Manager in writing (fax, email or letter) before midday the Friday before the meeting.

Useful Links

What is a Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP)?

Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) is an independent body which provides merit-based decision making on development of regional significance. Cumberland Council forms part of the Sydney West Regional Panel. The JRPP comprises of five members – three appointed by the Minister and two from Council.

Regional panels determine the following types of regional development:

  • Development with a capital investment value (CIV) over $20m;
  • Development with a CIV over $5m which is:
    • Council related.
    • Lodged by or on behalf of the Crown (State of NSW).
    • Private infrastructure and community facilities.
    • Eco-tourist facilities.
  • Extractive industries, waste facilities and marinas that are designated development.
  • Certain coastal subdivisions.
  • Development with a CIV between $10m-$20m which are referred to the regional panel by the applicant after 120 days.
  • Modifications to regional development under Section 96 (2) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (the Act).
  • Crown development applications (with a CIV under $5m) referred to the regional panel by the applicant or local council after 70 days from lodgement as undetermined, including where recommended conditions are in dispute.

A full list of regional development classes are set out in Schedule 4A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Cumberland Council Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel (CIHAP)

On 19 May 2016, Cumberland City Council resolved to establish an independent assessment panel, known as the Cumberland Council Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel (CIHAP), to provide transparency and probity in the assessment of Development Applications (DA’s) and planning proposals, and to provide an independent forum for stakeholders (applicants, the community and objectors) to present and discuss issues relating to Development Applications and planning proposals.
The CIHAP is a panel comprising of a pool of planning/urban design experts that are independent of Council, a community representative and a legal chairperson. They provide additional and independent rigor in the assessment process without unnecessarily delaying the processing of applications and planning proposals which comply with adopted policies.
The Panel replaces the Council in determining developments that exceed the staff delegation and review planning proposals (rezonings) which will help streamline the planning process.

The report on the Development Applications is prepared by Council’s Development Assessment Manager and the report for Planning Proposals by the Manager of Strategic Planning. These reports are for consideration of the Panel and include a full assessment of the application/proposal, the objections made and a recommendation. All members of our community are welcome to attend.

If you wish to address the Panel regarding an item on the agenda, you must first register with Council by 12 noon on the day prior to the meeting. Please contact Council on 8757 9000.

The Panel shall, upon request, hear submissions from persons who identify prior to a meeting that they wish to make a submission to be considered by the Panel.

Unless the Panel otherwise permits, no resident, objector, applicant or supporter who addresses the Panel at any meeting of the Panel may speak for more than 3 minutes in respect of any one matter before any particular meeting.

If you address the Panel, your name will be included in the minutes of the meeting unless you request that it not be included.
Where there are a large number of persons making submissions with common interests, the Panel shall have the discretion to hear a representative of those persons.

The Panel will publish its reasons and conclusions for decisions and a record of voting and is subject to Council approved CIHAP Policy and Procedures.


Panel members

The Panel members are independent of Council and are listed as follows:

Chairperson: Hon Paul Stein QC, AM

The Honorable Paul Stein, QC, AM, is the permanent chair of the Cumberland Council Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel. Hon Paul Stein is a respected jurist, who is a former judge of the District Court of NSW, NSW Land and Environment Court and the NSW Court of Appeal. He was an acting judge of the NSW Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, and a judge of the Court of Appeal of Fiji. He was also a former NSW Deputy Ombudsman and President of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, Chair of the Australian Consumers Association and Chair of the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

The Hon Paul Stein is currently the Chair of the Board of Governors of the NSW Law and Justice Foundation and the current chair of Manly, Mosman, Waverley Council’s Independent Assessment Panels.

Alternate Chairperson: Julie Walsh

Independent Experts: 

Stuart McDonald
Brian McDonald
Brian Kirk
Gabrielle Morrish

Community Representatives:

Paul Moulds AM
Evelyn Scott OAM
Martin Byrne

The Panel members will be introduced at the meeting. The quorum for a meeting of the Panel is three members. Council staff will attend to provide technical advice on Council’s controls or answer questions if required.

The CIHAP will typically meet on the first Wednesday of each month and are held at the Council Chambers, Civic Precinct, 1 Susan Street, Auburn or 16 Memorial Avenue, Merrylands.

The CIHAP public meeting will commence at 11.30am and all registered persons will be invited to speak. A decision and minutes of the meeting will be provided on Council’s website detailing reasons and conclusions for decisions and a record of voting. The CIHAP panel will inspect the sites subject of the meeting, prior to the meeting. The details of matters on the agenda are posted to this website and available to the public 5 days before the scheduled meeting.

CIHAP Policy and Procedures:

Code of Conduct:

Members of the CIHAP are bound by the Cumberland City Council Code of Conduct

Cumberland Council Code of Conduct

Meeting Minutes & Reports:

Meeting Minutes & Reports

Cumberland Council Extraordinary Minute 19 May 2016 

Will the community be consulted on my DA?

The Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 provides an opportunity for the community to be consulted and to comment on proposed developments.

Public notification of a DA may be required for certain types of development as detailed in a Development Control Plan or triggered in terms specified by SEPPs.

Depending on the type of development proposed, generally adjoining owners and occupiers are informed of intended future development. They are allowed to comment on a proposal and either support or object to it.

Other interested people or organisations, such as local Associations, may also be informed and invited to make a comment. Elected Council representatives are also provided weekly lists of the Development Applications received at Council.

Residents are alerted to DA’s through the following:

  • A notice in the local newspaper fortnightly council advertisement.
  • Notification signs placed on or in front of the DA site.
  • Cumberland Council’s website listing of new DA’s lodged and their status.
  • Notification letters.

Notification letters contain the name of the applicant, the address of the property concerned, a brief description of the proposed development and instructions on making submissions to Cumberland Council regarding the DA.

How to make a submission

Submissions must be made in writing and addressed to: The General Manager, PO Box 42 | 16 Memorial Avenue Merrylands NSW 2160.

Quote the application number and address of the proposed development, and provide a telephone number and email address (if available) so Cumberland Council can contact you about your submission if necessary. You can use photos or sketches to make your concerns clearer.

If you make a submission and have made a reportable political donation or gift to a Councillor or Council Officer within 2 years before making the submission you must attach a completed disclosure statement.

Common reasons for submissions include; views, overshadowing, privacy, streetscape, size of the proposed structure, landscaping, car parking, noise, drainage and heritage. Note that this is not an exhaustive list and not every matter is relevant to every application. Please note that you do not have to make a submission – it’s entirely optional.

Council will acknowledge it has received your submission and will also discuss your submission in the DA report. If you have specific questions or concerns you want to discuss, please contact the Council Officer responsible for the DA. Council staff will inspect the site, consider any submissions received and assess the development proposal in relation to Council’s policies and other statutory requirements.

If you would like to know what is happening with an application or whether it has been referred to a Council Meeting for a decision, please contact the responsible Officer.

Please remember that all submissions received, including the names and addresses of the persons making submissions, can be accessed by any person. The supply of personal information is entirely voluntary.

Under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, you may access or amend your personal information.

How will I be notified of my DA’s status?

If your application is approved and there are no outstanding matters, you will be sent a copy of the Development Consent including conditions and approved plans. You will be advised in writing if your application was not approved.

Development Application Tracking

You can track the progress of a Development Application from lodgement to determination by agreeing to the terms and conditions below and clicking on the link to Application Tracking.

This service applies to all Development Applications and s96 Modifications determined after 1 July 2016. Limited information is available for applications determined between 1 December 2011 and 30 June 2016.

Terms and Conditions

By clicking on the link to Application Tracking below you will be taken to have agreed to the following terms and conditions:

  • The contents of this website (which includes downloadable material) are subject to copyright and are protected by laws in Australian and other countries through international treaties.
  • Cumberland Council grants you a non-exclusive licence to produce the contents of this website in your web browser (and in cache file produced by your web browser) for the sole purpose of viewing the content. Cumberland Council reserves all other rights.
  • To the maximum extent permitted by law, Cumberland Council excludes all liability to you for loss or damage of any kind, however caused, (including by negligence), arising from or relating in any way to the contents of this website and/or your use of it.
  • All matters relating to this website are governed by the laws of the State of New South Wales, Australia. 
  • By accessing this information, I request to do so under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009. I understand that Council is making the information available under Section 6 of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 and in accordance with Schedule 1 of the Government Information (Public Access) Regulation 2009.
  • The information provided on this website is to assist customers in tracking the progress of a Development Application. It represents key milestones in the Development Application process and is not a detailed history. If you wish to confirm the information you should contact Council either via email or in writing in order to obtain a written response.

I agree to the above Terms and Conditions - proceed to application tracking  


How do I appeal Council’s decision?

Only the applicant can appeal against a Council decision on a DA. Appeals can be made when:

  • the application is refused;
  • the conditions of consent are disputed; or
  • the application is not determined within the deemed refusal period.

For a more detailed description of the appeals process, please read the DA Appeals section in the Land and Environment Court Guide.

Appeals should be lodged with the Land and Environment Court. You can visit their website to download the correct forms to lodge an appeal. You will also need to provide them with originals and copies of your Development Application form, plans and copies of Cumberland Council’s Notice of Determination if required. There will be a filing fee.

Once your paperwork is processed you must send a copy of the sealed documents provided to you by Cumberland Council. The applicant is generally known as the appellant while Council is known as the respondent. Once the appeal is lodged, Council’s decision is set aside and the Court becomes the approval body unless you and Council reach an agreement and settle.

Council may consider an application under Section 96 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to have a current Development Consent amended or modified. In considering the application, Council must be satisfied that the development remains substantially the same type of development that was approved. The types of modification include:

  • Section 96 (1) – To correct an error, misdescription or miscalculation
  • Section 96 (1a) – For minor modifications with low environmental/amenity impact
  • Section 96 (2) – For significant modifications
  • Section 96 (AA) – For modifications where the Development Application was granted by the Land and Environment Court
  • Section 96 (1a) and 96 (2) may also require public notification

An Application to Modify a Consent (Section 96) Form must be lodged with Council and submitted with the required supporting documentation. You will need to supply a minimum of four (4) sets and six (6) CDs, however, Council may request for additional plans.