Approval is required prior to the installation of a swimming pool by obtaining Development Consent or if applicable, a Complying Development Certificate.
The Swimming Pool Act defines a swimming pool as:
“ ….an excavation, structure or vessel:
(a) that is capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300 millimetres, and
(b) that is solely or principally used, or that is designed, manufactured or adapted to be solely or principally used, for the purpose of swimming, wading, paddling or any other human aquatic activity,
and includes a spa pool, but does not include a spa bath, anything that is situated within a bathroom or anything declared by the regulations not to be a swimming pool for the purposes of this Act.
Further information in regard to the process associated with obtaining an approval can be found on the development applications section of our website and the NSW Government Planning Portal.
Legislation requires that all pools (including spas) are required to be registered on the NSW Swimming Pool Register. The legislation provides council with the authority to issue a fine where a pool is found not to be registered.
Registering new pools
Check with your certifier about registering your pool. It is the pool owner’s responsibility to ensure the pool is registered.
There are 2 ways to register
Online at the NSW Swimming Pool Register website
Complete a registration form and lodge with Council. A fee of $10 is payable with the lodgement of the form.
Selling a house with a pool
From 29 April 2016 it will be compulsory to have a current swimming pool compliance certificate or occupation certificate in the contract of sale when selling a property with a pool.
Currently, if selling a property with a swimming pool the owner must have a warning notice in the contract of sale stating that the pool complies with the requirements of the Swimming Pools Act 1992.
Buying a house with a pool
Prospective buyers considering a property with a pool should get the pool inspected prior to purchasing. When purchasing a property with a pool, ensure the pool is recorded in the NSW Pool Register. (See pool registrations)
Renting/Leasing a residential property with a pool
From 29 April 2016 swimming pool owners will be required to include a current swimming pool compliance certificate in the leasing agreement before being able to lease a property with a pool.
Currently under the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010 and residential tenancies agreement the landlord agrees to ensure that the requirements of the Swimming Pools Act 1992 have been complied with in respect of the swimming pool on the residential premises.
Swimming Pool Compliance Certificate
To obtain a swimming pool compliance certificate you can contact your council or an accredited private certifier. Inspections are carried out and if the pool is compliant the certificate will be issued. If the pool is not compliant further inspections will be required before the certificate can be issued.
A swimming pool/spa must be registered on the NSW Swimming Pool Register before a swimming pool compliance certificate can be issued.
A swimming pool compliance certificate is valid for 3 years provided there are no changes to the pool barrier during that time.
Apply for a swimming pool compliance certificate
To apply for a swimming pool compliance certificate complete the online form, with payment of the relevant fees.
An initial fee of $150 is payable at the time of making a request for a swimming pool compliance certificate. This fee is for the initial inspection to be carried out on the swimming pool safety barrier.
If the swimming pool safety barrier is not compliant after the initial inspection a subsequent fee of $100 applies.
Pool Inspection Program
Council is required under the Swimming Pools Act to carry out its Swimming Pool Inspection Program to ensure all pools comply with the required standards.
Swimming Pool Inspection Program
This program applies to swimming pools (both outdoor and indoor) and spas that are situated or installed, on premises on which a residential building, a moveable dwelling or tourist and visitor accommodation is located.
Pools having a high risk such as backpackers, bed and breakfast, hotels, motels, serviced apartments and residences of more than 2 occupancies are inspected every 3 years.
If after inspection, council finds your pool compliant, a swimming pool compliance certificate can be issued.
Exemptions currently exist for some pools based on the age and location of the pool, provided such exemption barriers were in place at the time of the exemption and continue to be maintained as such.
Council recommends all pools be upgraded to comply with current requirements.
Between 1 August 1992 and 30 June 2010 the Swimming Pools Act 1992 provided an alternative to the general requirements as to the location of pool child-resistant barriers. These are referred to as Exemptions. This is different to site specific exemptions granted under section 22 of the Swimming Pools Act 1992.
These exemptions apply to the following pools so long as the means of access to the pool are at all times restricted in accordance with the exemption.
- Pools constructed prior to 1 August 1990
- Pools on waterfront properties constructed before 1 July 2010.
- Pools on properties having an area less than 230 m² constructed before 1 July 2010.
- Pools on properties having an area of 2 hectares or more constructed before 1 July 2010.
Exempt barriers retained
To retain the exemption that was available to the pool at the time of construction requires that such pool barriers / means of access continue to comply with the standard applicable at the time of their installation. These exemptions primarily relate to the use of child-safe/child-resistant doors as an outdoor pool barrier which the current standards do not allow.
Some pool owners are of the opinion that an exemption applies for the life of the pool. This is not correct.
Exempt Barrier no longer applies and is removed where...
- Access to a pool or pool barrier is substantially altered or rebuilt - the means of access/pool barrier is to comply with the standards applicable at the time when it was altered/rebuilt.
- Restricted access to a pool or pool barrier is not provided - then the exemption no longer applies and the means of access/ pool barrier is required to comply with current standards.
- Restricted access to a pool or pool barrier is not maintained or does not comply - then the exemption no longer applies and the means of access/ pool barrier is required to comply with current standards.
- Pool fenced voluntarily, once fenced the exemption cannot be reinstated - where an existing swimming pool that is exempt from the Act’s fencing requirements is fenced voluntarily, such fencing must meet the Act’s requirements for a compliant, four-sided barrier (effectively removing the exemption). Once in place the fence cannot be removed or altered to a lesser (older) standard.
Exemptions are no longer valid when...
- Exempt barrier was not provided/not in place.
- Exempt barrier is not maintained or does not comply.
- Exempt barrier is removed e.g. dwelling is demolished. If the existing pool is being retained, it no longer retains the exemption and therefore requires a child-resistant barrier separating the pool from the new residence and adjoining properties, both public and private. The pool is required to be fenced prior to demolition of dwelling.
- Exempt barrier is removed/replaced e.g. pool owner voluntarily fences the pool.
- Means of access/ pool barrier is substantially altered or rebuilt.(This includes where an existing child-safe/child-resistant door is removed or replaced). Additions/ alterations to an existing residence removing exemption barriers or where such works provide opening that are a means of access to the pool area. Any existing pool barrier exemptions being altered/rebuilt/removed are lost and cannot be reinstated. Thus the pool is to be provided with child-resistant barriers separating the pool from the residence and adjoining properties, both public and private.
If the above applies, child-resistant barriers are required to be upgraded to comply with current pool safety standards.
New structures such as a garage, carport, shed, pergola or the like are required to be outside the enclosed pool area child-resistant barriers. Child-resistant doors are no longer permitted thus door exemptions do not apply for new structures even though the property may have a complying existing barrier exemption.
Child Resistant Barriers
Outdoor pools must be surrounded by a child-resistant barrier that separates the pool from any residential building situated on the premises and from any adjoining public or private properties.
Pools must be surrounded by a child-resistant barrier consisting of fencing of a height no less than 1.2 metres (1.8 metres if a boundary fence) and/or your house wall.
Access to and from residential buildings and waterfront within the property must be outside the pool enclosure and not thorough the pool area.
Subject to the provisions under the Swimming Pools Act, Regulation and BCA, the child-resistant barrier must be designed, constructed, installed and maintained in accordance with the Australian Standard AS1926.1.
General child-resistant barrier requirements are:
- Minimum height 1200mm (measured outside the pool area)
- Minimum 900mm separation between the upper and lower horizontal components to maintain a non-climbable zone.
- Maximum 100mm gap under the fence.
- Maximum 100mm gap in barrier components, allowing for any flex in the component material.
- Non-climbable zone extends from the barrier 300mm into pool area and 900mm outside pool area.
- Steps, retaining wall. level changes are to be 500mm from the barrier
- Landscaping, associated lighting and other fixtures or furniture are not to intrude into the non-climbable zone
- Boundary fence to be 1800mm in height (measured inside the pool area). See AS1926.1 for details.
Child Resistant Gates
- General pool child-resistant gates requirements:
- Gates must be self-closing and self-latching and must be closed at all times.
- Gates to open outwards from the pool area.
- The latch release being positioned a minimum 1.5 metres above ground level & 1.4 metres from highest lower horizontal barrier member.
- As an alternative to the above where sold panel (glass) or a shield is used the latch is positioned on the pool side near the top of the gate. The solid panel/ shield make it necessary to reach over the gate to reach the latch release mechanism. See AS1926.1 for more information
- Gate width is to be kept to a minimum (no more than 1 metre) to minimise the possibility of the weight of the gate causing the gate to drop with the self-latching mechanism failing. Gates must be self-closing and self-latching and must be closed at all times.
Always keep your barrier, gates and doors in good working condition. Doors and gates providing access to the pool area must be kept securely closed at all times when not in actual use.
It is estimated there are more than 100,000 inflatable or portable swimming pools in NSW, compared to over 340,000 permanent pools. (Source: Westmead Kids Health website, June 2012.)
More than a quarter of all drowning deaths among children in backyard swimming pools in NSW happen in inflatable or portable swimming pools.
There are many more near drowning incidents that occur, some of which result in lifelong brain damage for the child.
Westmead Childrens Hospital - Inflatable & Portable Pool Safety
What you need to do - Fencing
You must still, by law, have a four sided fence around any pool that is capable of being filled with water greater than 300mm in depth. Our child resistant Barriers and Gates section provides information for all owners about fencing requirements.
If you cannot afford to provide a fence around an inflatable/portable pool that is capable of being filled with water greater than 300mm in depth your only option is to purchase a smaller inflatable pool that is less than 300mm in height that you can easily empty and put away after each use.
- Always empty the pool when it is not in use. You may wish to recycle the water for use in the garden or other areas around the home. Leaving water in the pool is not only a drowning risk but water left in the pool can become unclean and cause ill health.
- Always store the pool away from young children when it is not in use. Storing the pool upright will prevent small amounts of water being collected in the pool as a result of rain or nearby sprinklers.
What is required?
The occupier of any Premises where a swimming pool/spa is situated must ensure that there is at all times maintained, in a prominent position in the immediate vicinity of the swimming pool, a resuscitation sign erect.
What should be on the sign?
The statement should include:
- Young children should be supervised when using the swimming pool
- Pool gates must be kept closed at all times
- Keep articles, objects and structures at least 900mm clear of the pool fence at all times.
Where should the sign be located?
The sign must be legible from a distance of at least 3 metres, maintained in a clearly legible condition and be within the immediate vicinity of the pool.
It is recommended that the Resuscitation Sign be displayed at the shallow portion of the pool near an open area within the pool enclosure as this is most likely the area where resuscitation would be carried out.
Where can I purchase a Resuscitation warning sign?
Resuscitation warning signs are available for purchase from Council for $20. Simply come into Council’s Customer Service Centre to purchase.
Learn more from this simple brochure on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)