Unauthorised work and unlawful activity

Unauthorised work or unlawful activity can range from very minor technical breaches that cause little or no harm to major breaches that can cause significant harm to others or the environment. Council relies upon the public to help identify and provide evidence to assist in the investigation of possible breaches. 

Please report to Council any activities that you believe are being carried out:

  • without having the required approval e.g. development consent
  • not in accordance with the conditions of an approval e.g. working outside specified hours stipulated in a development consent
  • contrary to the relevant planning provisions e.g. conducting a business in an area where it is not permitted, vegetation/tree removal, or
  • contrary to a relevant legislative provision e.g. unauthorised land clearing.

Reporting unauthorised work and unlawful activity

Step 1.Check whether it needs approval

Many smaller construction projects don't need approval. Examples of exempt development include:

  • air conditioner installation
  • decks
  • carports
  • home businesses, home industries and home occupations

See more information about where approval is not needed 

Step 2.Check whether it's up to standard

Exempt developments are legal as long as they are built up to standard. To see if the works meet the exempt development standards check the State Environmental Planning Policy 2008 (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 

Step 3.Check whether it already has approval

Check whether development consent has been granted. You can do this using our online tool below.

DA Tracker

Step 4.Report a possible breach

When you report a possible unauthorised work or unlawful activity please include:

  • Your contact details
  • The property address where the works / activity is being undertaken
  • Details of the possible breach, including date of commencement
  • How the possible breach has impacted on you or your property
  • Whether you have contacted council about this issue previously
  • Any photographs or other documentation that may support your concern

 You can submit your report using our online form below.

Customer Request

Step 5.What happens next?

Council compliance officers will investigate reports and consider all relevant information. 

Council may then take the following actions:

  • No action – for activity that is a technical breach only, when there is a lack of evidence, when no action is justified by the public interest or some other appropriate reason.
  • Education – educating people on Council requirements where the unauthorised activity or development will cease immediately without any likelihood of reoccurrence.
  • Negotiation - advising the person responsible as to the nature of the breach and Council requirements, followed up by a letter with expectations and responsibilities reinforced.
  • Await Determination of Approval - This option is particularly relevant where it is likely that the development or activity could gain consent (approval). 
  • Fines - Penalty Infringement Notices may be issued where such provisions apply. 
  • Notices/Orders – Directions issued to an offender to undertake such measures as given within specified timeframes.
  • Prosecution – Commence court action for failure to comply with an Order or where the breach warrants same.

Buildings cannot be retrospectively approved.  It may be possible to obtain approval for the continued use of a building or for the continued use of an activity.  In such cases Council may request the submission of a development application or an Application for Building Information Certificate and supporting documents to prove the suitability of the building work.

In cases where unauthorised work could not have been approved or is not able to meet the relevant standards of construction, Council may require the illegal work to be demolished.