5. Development Application – The 6 Stages

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What you need to know pre-build

We have set out the information to give you a clear understanding of the entire Development Application (DA) process. Information is set out per stage of the process.

In NSW, there are 6 stages in obtaining building approval from your Council related to a Development Application (DA):

Through this series of informative articles, one for each stage, you will gain a clear understanding of the entire Development Application (DA) process.

  • Pre-Lodgement
  • Lodgement
  • Assessment
  • Determination
  • Construction Certificate
  • Occupation Certificate

In this article we will provide an overview of each of the stages.


This is the most important stage in preparing all your application requirements. It is integral to obtaining a DA approval. Good preparation and time taken now, minimizes the time it takes to gain that approval and minimizing the cost of the application.

Engaging the right team of experts who know the correct processes and documents required by Council will help you understand and simplify your application.


Lodgement with Council is the formal start of the DA process. All your information will be checked initially by a Council Officer. You should be aware of the obligations the Council has under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, particularly in relation to timeframes and the “clock” concept.


During the Assessment stage, the Council must adhere to section 4.15 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 Act. This is the stage where site inspections are conducted, stakeholders are engaged, reports created and recommendations made.


This is the decision stage and there are 3 possibilities:

  • Development Consent with possible conditions
  • Development Refusal and reasons why
  • Deferred Commencement Consent that requires resolution of identified issues

Be aware that some conditions may require a change to your plans which in turn may increase the cost of your build.

Construction Certificate

Before you commence building, even though you have had DA approval, you will need to obtain a Construction Certificate from Council. There are 3 other mandatory requirements:

  • Appoint a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) to monitor the build.
  • Provide 2 days’ notice to Council and the PCA of your intention to start work.
  • Ensure all conditions of the DA approval have been met.
Occupation Certificate

This is the final stage in the DA and construction phase and is a formal notification that you can occupy all or part of the premise. To obtain this certificate your Principal Certifying Authority must be certain that all the regulatory conditions of your build have been met.

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