Do I need approval?

Most development proposals need to gain consent from City of Coffs Harbour through the development application (DA) process before they can proceed.

However, some minor developments do not need consent from the City or may be eligible for an exemption or a fast-tracked assessment. Find out if your development may fit into one of the categories below.

Development without consent

Not all development requires consent from the City of Coffs Harbour. This may include home businesses in a residential zone, environmental protection works in an environmental conservation zone, or markets in a public recreation zone.

Such low-impact or routine activities may be listed by the Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and/or State Environmental Planning Policies that apply to the area or activity as 'permitted without consent'. Find the LEP and more planning controls and guidelines.

However, some of these developments (or activities) may still need a licence, permit or other approval from a public authority and may need to undergo an environmental assessment before approval can be given. 

Visit the NSW Planning Portal for more information on development without consent.

Exempt developments

Some small scale and low impact developments (e.g. residential decks, fences, BBQs, pergolas, privacy screens) can be constructed without any planning approval. Your proposal must meet all of the exempt development provisions.

Visit the NSW Planning Portal for more information on exempt development.

Complying development

Complying development is a combined planning and construction approval for straightforward development that can be determined through a fast-track assessment by an accredited certifier. 

Complying development applies to homes, businesses and industry. Examples include the construction of a new dwelling house, alterations and additions to a house, new industrial buildings, demolition of a building, and changes to a business use.

A proposal must meet all of the relevant development standards and comply with the Building Code of Australia.

Visit the NSW Planning Portal for information on  complying development.

Before you dig

Even if you don’t need formal approval to build, you always need to check what’s under the ground before you dig. This is to avoid your exempt development getting close to services (pipes and cables for example), which can be costly to you and extremely dangerous, indeed life-threatening, to the digger.

To check City of Coffs Harbour services (water and sewer for example), our online mapping tool can give you an indication, but to be sure you should contact our Technical Officer Water on 02) 6648 4000.

To check other services (telecommunications for example) you can use the Dial Before you Dig online service.

We also recommend ‘ground truthing’ which is done by qualified pipe and cable locaters.

If you find City of Coffs Harbour services

If you find City of Coffs Harbour services while working, you or your contractor should notify us. We can provide advice on protecting our infrastructure and how to carry out and document any works needed to our required specifications.

For more information see our Construction in the Vicinity of and Protection of Council Underground Assets Policy and Procedure.

Building a separate dwelling

Whenever you build a secondary dwelling, you will need to apply for a separate water meter for the dwelling.

Submit the Water Service Application Form 


Video series

We have created a series of videos to explain common building and planning enquiries. We will be adding to this series over the coming weeks.

Can I put a granny flat on my property?

Can you put a granny flat, also known as a secondary dwelling, on the same block of land as your principle place of residence? Watch our video to find out.

Read a transcript of the video