Exempt Development

The NSW Department of Planning defines Exempt development as very low impact development that includes such things as;

small decks and balconies

garden sheds, cabanas and cubby houses

Providing your building project meets specific development standards, approval from your local Council is not needed. The complete development standards are found under the State Environment Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development) 2008

In regard to the products offered by Backyard Cabins, we can build under the exempt development planning code for such products as garden sheds and cabanas.

The general developments standards applicable for these constructions are:

  • must not have a floor area greater than 20sqm
  • must have a side and rear setback of 900mm
  • must not have an overall height from existing ground level greater than 3m

Further information is available direct from NSW Dept of Planning and Environment here. NEED HYPERLINK

Subdivision 9  Cabanas, cubby houses, ferneries, garden sheds, gazebos and greenhouses

2.17   Specified development

The construction or installation of a cabana, cubby house, fernery, garden shed, gazebo or greenhouse is development specified for this code if it is not constructed or installed on or in a heritage item or a draft heritage item, on land in a foreshore area or in an environmentally sensitive area.

2.18   Development standards

        (1)  The standards specified for that development are that the development must:

            (a)  (Repealed)

            (b)  not have a floor area of more than:

                (i)  on land in Zone RU1, RU2, RU3, RU4, RU6 or R5—50m2, or

                (ii)  on land in any other zone—20m2, and

            (c)  be not higher than 3m above ground level (existing), and

            (d)  be located at a distance from each lot boundary of at least:

                (i)  for development carried out in Zone RU1, RU2, RU3, RU4, RU6 or R5—5m, or

                (ii)  for development carried out in any other zone—900mm, and

            (e)  if it is not on land in Zone RU1, RU2, RU3, RU4 or RU6—be located behind the building line of any road frontage, and

            (f)  not be a shipping container, and

            (g)  be constructed or installed so that roofwater is disposed of without causing a nuisance to adjoining owners, and

            (h)  to the extent it is comprised of metal components—be constructed of low reflective, factory pre-coloured materials if it is located on land in a residential zone, and

            (i)  if it is located on bush fire prone land and is less than 5m from a dwelling—be constructed of non-combustible material, and

            (j)  if it is constructed or installed in a heritage conservation area or a draft heritage conservation area—be located in the rear yard, and

            (k)  if it is located adjacent to another building—be located so that it does not interfere with the entry to, or exit from, or the fire safety measures contained within, that building, and

            (l)  be a Class 10 building and not be habitable, and

            (m)  be located at least 1m from any registered easement.

        (2)  There must not be more than 2 developments per lot.

        2) Complying Development

Complying development is a fast track approval process for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial development. Providing the application meets specific criteria then it can be determined by a Council or accredited certifier without the need for a full development application. Examples of complying development include:

        detached studios, cabins and cottages


        granny flats

        renovations; alterations and additions

        new dwellings.

 3) Local Council Development Application

This avenue is available for all and any development proposals and provides a more flexible framework for design and specifications. We recommend the use of the Complying Development Process but this is only available where the property lot is located with the required land zonings. Where the property is located in such zones as Environmentally Sensitive, Foreshore, Heritage, it is not permissible to use the Complying Development Process. So, this isn’t to say you cannot complete the project rather you must lodge an application for the proposed development with the local council and adhere to the Local Development Control Plan(DCP) for the type of development you intend to build. Your local council website can be a great help in giving you the information required/related to the intended development type. Simply follow the links to ePlanning – Development/Property Search on your relevant Council Website.

The benefits of lodging a DA are that as the Complying Development Codes are a ‘black and white’ framework that the outline the standards for development, there is no leeway for variation to these prescriptive rules and parameters. With a DA you can propose a development in your exact liking, generally adhering to the controls of the Local DCP and building codes, and the whole application will be determined by council, with consultation with neighbours, on a merit basis. That is, if you put forward a strong case satisfying the local controls and in keeping with local character and not interfering with neighbours privacy and alike, you should be granted approval.

The downside to the process is that the process can be a slow moving undertaking. Many of the requirements are not identified up-front in the process and you may be required to generate further investigation and engage other professional consultants along the way.