The DA process

Building or renovating your home is always exciting, but the Development Approval process can be overwhelming.

The NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment has developed some useful guidelines and tools to help you through the processes involved in preparing and lodging a development application and the steps post determination. Refer to the Department of Planning guide to the DA process.

First, it’s important to gather the right information about your property. You should also talk to your neighbours early on in the process and relevant specialists (e.g. architect, builder, town planner) who can help you prepare your Development Application.

Prior to lodging your Development Application on the NSW Planning Portal, the following services are available from Council.

Building and Planning Advice

Council provides development advice free of charge to assist with general town planning and building enquiries. If you would like advice on a site-specific proposal that requires a comprehensive response, you may need to lodge a Pre-DA lodgement meeting request form or submit a written enquiry. Duty building and planning officers will be able to suggest the best option for your specific proposal.

Please see for further information.

Pre-DA lodgement meetings

A pre-DA lodgement meeting is a meeting between prospective applicants and Council’s technical staff to discuss a proposed development. The meeting provides a prospective applicant the opportunity to discuss and receive feedback from Council on the technical aspects of the development proposal.

In most cases there is no mandatory requirement to have a pre-DA lodgement meeting prior to lodging a development application (the exception to this being development for major urban subdivision). However, pre-DA lodgement meetings are encouraged by Council as the most appropriate means of addressing enquiries of a complex nature, where formal feedback is being sought from Council on a specific development concept or proposal, prior to the lodgement of a development application.

Please note that until at least 31 October 2022, all pre-DA lodgement meetings will be held online. This has been necessary due to workplace disruptions and staff shortages arising from high COVID-19 and influenza case numbers in the community and the need to ensure core services can continue to be delivered.

Download the Pre-DA Lodgement Meeting Request Form (pdf) and Pre-DA Lodgement Meeting Factsheet (pdf).

Extension of Application Review Timeframes

Processing and adequacy review timeframes for applications submitted via the NSW Planning Portal between 20 December 2021 and 16 January 2022 (inclusive) will be extended due to the Christmas and New Year break.

All development applications (including modifications and reviews) are to be submitted online via the NSW Government Planning Portal .

To lodge an application via the NSW Planning portal, you will first need to register an account. Your Guide to the Planning Process by the NSW Department of Planning provides useful information on the planning system in NSW.

This short video explains the process of lodging an application using the NSW Planning Portal:

When a DA is lodged in the NSW Planning Portal, Council will carry out an adequacy review of the information that has been uploaded to the portal. If further information or clarification is required, the applicant will be notified via the portal and asked to provide the information.

When the documentation is considered sufficient for lodgement, Council will advise of the fees that are required to be paid. Payments will only be accepted electronically. Once payment is confirmed, notification will be provided from the NSW Planning Portal that the application has been lodged. This notification will contain the reference numbers for the application in the NSW Planning Portal and Council’s system.

Download the Development Application lodgement checklist which includes further information regarding the documents Council requires for your proposal. An Onwers Consent Declaration and Estimated Cost of Development Form will need to accompany your application.

If you are having difficulty using the Online DA Service, please contact the ePlanning support team at

Neighbour notification and advertising

Once your DA has been lodged and checked, formal neighbour notification may occur. If notification is required for a DA, Council’s notification typically includes one or more of the following:

  • Council’s website Development applications (DAs) are available electronically on the DA's Online portal.
  • Letter Council may send letters (email or post) to adjoining and or surrounding landowners who may be potentially impacted by the development proposal.
  • Site signage Council staff may provide a sign on the site of the proposed development.
  • Referrals (internal and external) Council has internal experts who will comment on different environmental issues. Other government agencies have special roles to provide comment or agreement/approval within their areas of expertise such as NSW Rural Fire Service and Office of Environment and Heritage.
  • Allocation to an assessment officer Your application will be allocated to an assessment officer and they will be the key point of contact.

Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), all DAs must be formally assessed by Council. This means that the site must be inspected, applicants and neighbours engaged, reports drafted and recommendations made.

The six matters that Council must consider (under section 4.15 of the EP&A Act) are:

  1. All plans and policies that apply – SEPPs, LEPs, DCPs.
  2. Impacts of your proposal on the natural and built environment and the social and economic impacts in the locality.
  3. The suitability of your site for your proposal (e.g. physical characteristics, availability of access and services).
  4. Any submissions (such as from neighbours or other groups).
  5. Any comments or agreements/approvals from any NSW Government agency.
  6. The broader public interest.

Council’s DA tracking system

You can view Council’s online DA tracking system , and the NSW Planning Portal to monitor the progress of your DA.

Liaison with council - additional information requests

If you get the ‘front end’ right then the assessment officer will most likely have all the information required to make a decision. However, it may be necessary for the assessment officer to contact you or your consultant and request clarification or additional information.

There are three possible outcomes for a DA:

  1. Development Consent (granted with conditions)
  2. DA Refusal (with reasons)
  3. Deferral Commencement Consent (waiting for one or more important matters to be resolved)

After determination, you may seek to:

  • modify your development consent
  • request Council reconsider its decision, or
  • appeal Council’s decision to the Land and Environment Court.

The significance of the conditions of your consent

Conditions of consent can modify your plans (e.g. reducing height, deleting elements, adding a privacy screen, requiring a retaining wall). These changes may increase the cost of your construction. Getting it right at the start will help minimise unexpected and unplanned costs because of conditions imposed.

Before you can start building you must do four things:

  1. Satisfy any conditions prior to issue of a Construction Certificate listed in the consent.
  2. Apply for and obtain a Construction Certificate. Council has a highly qualified and experienced team of Registered Certifier’s that can issue Construction Certificates. All Applications lodged with Council must be lodged via the NSW Planning Portal. You may choose to engage a private Registered Certifier for this function.
  3. Appoint a Principal Certifier. It is important to note that the owner of the land must freely choose who the Principal Certifier is to be.  It is an offence for a building contractor to attempt to influence their client in their choice of certifier. Indicators of attempting to influence a client include:
    (a) making it a requirement of entering the contract that a specified registered certifier is to be appointed
    (b) offering to change the contract price if a specified registered certifier is to be, or not be, appointed
    (c) refusing to carry out work under the contract if a specified registered certifier is, or is not, appointed.
  4. Complete any Prior to commencing work items listed in the consent.

Construction Certificate (CC)

A Construction Certificate confirms your construction plans and development specifications are consistent with the development consent, and comply with the Building Code of Australia. It requires the construction plans, engineering and other details to be assessed following the lodgement of a Construction Certificate Application.

Work must not commence on site until after the Construction Certificate has been issued.

A Construction Certificate can be issued by Council’s Registered Certifiers. Download the Construction Certificate lodgement checklist for details on documents required. Please contact Council's Building Services Section on 1300 864 444.

If this is a requirement of your development consent, you must obtain an Occupation Certificate to certify that you have met the requirements of your development consent and construction certificate, and that the building is now ready to occupy.

Delays to DA assessment times

Due to a number of exceptional circumstances, Council is experiencing delays in assessment times for all Development Applications.  We apologise for the inconvenience and thank applicants for their patience during this time. We are working hard to complete the assessment of each application as quickly as possible.

Since mid-2020 Council has experienced an unprecedented surge in development applications. Our staff have also been working on large-scale and complex subdivisions; transitioning to online and virtual service delivery for all planning-related applications via the NSW Planning Portal; and navigating the ongoing impacts that COVID-19 and recent major flood events have had and are continuing to have on staffing numbers.  

How you can help

To help us reduce delays, please ensure your application is complete and the required information is comprehensive, clearly labelled and referenced throughout the application documentation.
Your application should be accompanied by all of the required documents and plans as detailed in Council’s Development Application Lodgement Checklist.

Please ensure your application includes:

To help things run as smoothly as possible, we ask applicants to please:

  • Upload all responses to additional information requests or any further documentation in support of your application via the NSW Planning Portal.
  • Use the Planning Portal as the source of all information relating to development applications. It will continue to be upgraded and improved for this purpose.
  • If you have an enquiry regarding your specific development application please email the assessment officer assigned to your application. These enquiries should come from a single representative for the applicant only and not multiple persons/parties. Please allow at least three working days for all non-urgent replies.
  • The assessment officer will contact community members who make a submission directly for any clarification if required. Multiple contacts about submissions are unnecessary.


Related Pages

Rural Dwelling development application guide

Use this guide to planning requirements for your rural dwelling development application

Rural Sheds development application guide

Use this guide to planning requirements for your rural shed/s development application

Rural Dual Occupancy development application guide

Use this guide to planning requirements for your rural dual occupancy development application

Urban Dual Occupancy development application guide

Use this guide to planning requirements for your urban dual occupancy development application

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The General Manager
Ballina Shire Council
PO Box 450
Ballina NSW 2478

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