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Development Application Guide

If you are proposing any development or building works in Mosman there are a number of steps you must take.

Step 1 – Check if Council approval is required

Before you undertake any development or building works, you will need to determine what approvals are required.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 defines development as:

  • the use of land, and
  • the subdivision of land, and
  • the erection of a building, and
  • the carrying out of a work, and
  • the demolition of a building or work
  • any other act, matter or thing controlled by an environmental planning instrument.

Certain types of minor development may be carried out as Exempt or Complying Development. All other development will require a Development Application to be submitted to Council.

Exempt Development

A number of minor types of low impact works or renovations may be exempt development. Council approval is not needed if your project meets specific development standards. The standards you must comply with for most exempt development works are in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

If any of the criteria cannot be fully met, a complying certificate or development approval must be obtained before carrying out the work or development.

Some common examples of exempt development are:

  • Awnings and other shade structures
  • Carports
  • Garden sheds
  • Home business
  • Air conditioning units

Visit the NSW Planning Portal or contact Council‘s Planning Advisor on 9978 4172 for further information on Exempt Development.

Complying Development

Complying Development is a combined planning and construction approval for straightforward development that can be determined through a fast-track assessment by a council or an accredited certifier. Providing your application meets specific development standards, approval (known as a Complying Development Certificate or CDC) can be granted, without the need for a full Development Application.

Complying development may include:

  • Internal alterations to a house
  • Swimming pool
  • Carports, garages and driveways
  • Demolition

Visit the NSW Planning Portal or contact Council‘s Planning Advisor on 9978 4172 for further information on Complying Development.

If your proposal does not meet the Exempt or Complying Development criteria, then provided the development is permitted with development consent you will need to lodge a development application. Proceed to the next step.

Step 2 – Prior to Lodging a Development Application

There are several things you should do prior to lodging your development application:

  • Establish what is permissible on your property, what potential constraints affect your property and what planning controls apply to the proposed development, in particular the Local Environmental Plan and Development Control Plans.
  • Talk to your neighbours to assist them to understand your proposal. Consulting neighbours can improve the development application process if neighbours have an understanding of the proposal before the development application is lodged. You may be able to resolve an issue your neighbour has before lodging your development application.
  • Review the Application Lodgement Guide and Matrix. The Application Lodgement Guide and Matrix provides important information for applicants when lodging applications with Mosman Council and outlines the different lodgement requirements for development applications, modification applications and review applications.
  • Meet with Council officers and discuss the proposal. This will provide opportunity to seek input from council officers about your proposal before preparing detailed plans. Meetings with Council officers can take one of two forms:

Informal meeting

Informal meetings can provide a general indication as to whether the proposal meets the objectives of the planning controls in Mosman, and can identify issues that need to be addressed in the development application. No written feedback will be provided.

Formal pre-lodgement meeting

A formal pre-lodgement meeting with council officers will be documented and written feedback on your proposal will be provided.

What can I expect from a formal pre-lodgement meeting?

  • an understanding of the permissibility of the proposal and the relevant development standards, controls and policies;
  • an understanding of issues that might cause delay, need further consideration, have some sensitivity or cause concern;
  • an understanding of the documentation required for lodgement;
  • a meeting with at least two assessment officers;
  • a meeting date arranged within ten (10) days after lodgement; and
  • written feedback outlining the description of site and proposal discussed as well as an outline of any issues or concerns raised by the proposal.
  • If you decide to go ahead and lodge your application, the pre-lodgement meeting minutes will be reviewed as part of the assessment process.

The amount of feedback given depends on the amount and quality of information that you are able to provide. Useful material includes:

  • concept plans and survey plan;
  • general information covering what you hope to achieve on the site and how you propose to address any likely impacts on the local area; and
  • details about the site and adjoining development.

Attending a pre-lodgement meeting and addressing concerns and comments made does not imply that the development will gain development consent. The views of the community, internal specialists and other government authorities are not able to be taken into account in the pre-lodgement process.

How do I arrange a formal pre-lodgement meeting?

The pre-lodgement application will be allocated to an officer who will call you to arrange a site inspection and meeting time.

The following charges apply to formal prelodgement meetings:

Cost of Work Fee
Up to $1,200,000 $1,320
$1,200,001 to $2,500,000 $2,200
$2,500,001 to $5,000,000 $3,300
$5,000,001+ $4,400

Step 3 – Lodging an Application

All development applications, modification applications and review applications are required to be submitted online via the NSW Planning Portal.

This follows a mandate by the NSW Government for Councils to use the NSW Planning Portal.

How to lodge your application on the NSW Planning Portal

  1. Review the Application Lodgement Guide and Matrix:

    The Application Lodgement Guide and Matrix provides important information for applicants when lodging applications with Mosman Council and outlines the different lodgement requirements for development applications, modification applications and review applications. Council’s Owners Consent and DA Checklist and Applicant Declaration are required to be submitted with all development applications. 

  2. Register or Login:

    Access the NSW Planning Portal and either login to your account or refer to Register for a Planning Portal account guide to create an account.

  3. Enter your development proposal and application details:

    Enter the application details in the portal using the Submit a Development Application Online guide and upload all required documents as separate files. The required documents are detailed within the DA Checklist and Applicant Declaration. 

  4. Application Review: 

    Once an application is submitted through the NSW Planning Portal, Council will undertake a review of the application. Council will make a decision to accept the application, request additional information or return the application. Should additional information be required, you will receive an email via the NSW Planning Portal outlining the required information.

    If the application documentation is found to be in order, Council will calculate and advise the applicant via email of the required fee and the application reference number. The fee can be paid in person at Council, by mail or by online payment. On payment of the fee, the application will be formally lodged, a tax invoice/receipt will be emailed to the applicant, and the assessment of the application will commence. The application can then be tracked on Council’s DA Tracker, where the name and phone number of the assessment officer will be available.

Support available

  • If you have difficulties logging in to the NSW Planning Portal or registering your NSW Planning Portal account, refer to the NSW Government‘s FAQ web page, call Service NSW on 1300 305 695 or email
  • If you are unsure of what documents to lodge with your application or if you have submitted your application through the NSW Planning Portal and wish to enquire as to the status, phone Council‘s Development Services Support Officer on 9978 4278.

Frequently Asked Questions

Once my application is submitted through the Planning Portal, how long can I expect to wait until I receive a response from Council?

We will aim to review your application and provide you with a response in five business days, however this may vary for more complex applications.

How do I relodge my returned application?

For DAs which have been returned to the applicant due to insufficient information, the Planning Portal provides the option to create a copy of your DA allowing you to relodge a new application including the additional documentation with ease.

My property address is not appearing in the Planning Portal?

If you have entered your address in the search box and it is not appearing, select the tick box next to ‘Address did not display?’ and re-type your address then select next and it should appear.

I don‘t have access to a personal computer, where can I lodge my application?

Council‘s library offers free computer services for the community. Find more information on Council‘s library services and opening hours here.

Step 4 – Public Notification and Submissions

Applications are notified in accordance with the Mosman Community Participation Plan.

The majority of applications are notified for 14 days. Applications involving Nominated Integrated development and/or Designated development are notified for 28 days. Extended notification periods apply over the Christmas and New Year period.

Applications are notified in the following ways:

During the notification period the DA Tracker contains all relevant details of the proposal, including plans to assist you in making a submission.

If you make a submission please remember:

  • You should review the plans and read the accompanying information so you are clear on the details. Mostly, the applicant will be your neighbour or their architect so you may be able to clarify detail or resolve any concerns by discussing it with them.
  • Development assessment involves a process of mutual adjustment between your legitimate concerns and the reasonable development rights of the applicant. Council has to evaluate both within a statutory planning framework and in many cases no party will be totally satisfied. This is the nature of the process.
  • Council is interested in what your issues are with the DA. These are best expressed in your own words and need not rely on lengthy references to provisions of planning instruments (LEPs and DCPs) – references which may obscure real issues.
  • Council staff are available to assist you with interpretation of DA documents and general enquiries during the notification period; however, detailed explanation of the applicant’s intent can best be obtained from the applicant direct.
  • Staff do not reply to questions posed in written submissions but cover issues as part of the DA assessment.

How to make a submission

During the notification period you are able to make a submission either online via the DA Tracker or by email to


Submissions will be acknowledged by email or letter by post.

Extended notification for the Christmas/New Year period

The period between 20 December and 10 January (inclusive) is excluded from the calculation of a period of public notification.


The supply of personal contact information in a submission is voluntary pursuant to the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998. By including your contact information in a submission you are acknowledging that it will be made available for public view at Council offices and through the Council website.

Disclosure requirements

If you have given a gift or made a donation to a Councillor, an employee or an approved contractor of Mosman Council within the past two (2) years, by law you must include a disclosure statement with your submission.

Assessment and Decisions

When considering a DA the assessment officer will have regard to:

  • Statutory requirements under the Act;
  • Adopted policies of Council; and
  • Issues raised in written submissions.

Some applications are determined under delegated authority of Council whilst others are determined by the Mosman Local Planning Panel (MLPP) or the Sydney North Planning Panel.

If the application is to be referred to the MLPP for determination you will not be notified in writing. Instead, you are invited to either:

  • Register for MLPP Notification on the DA Tracker and receive emailed notification if an application is referred to MLPP for determination; or
  • Check Council website‘s Mosman Local Planning Panel page.

When a final determination is made all people who made a submission are informed of the outcome. The Assessment Report and Notice of Determination are made available on the DA Tracker.

Note: any written submission made regarding a Development Application will be available for the public to access via the DA Tracker.

Step 5 – Determination of Applications

The majority of Development Applications lodged are determined by Council staff. Applications will be referred to the Mosman Local Planning Panel or the Sydney North Planning Panel for determination where they meet the criteria outlined below.

Mosman Local Planning Panel

Applications will be referred to the Mosman Local Planning Panel for advice prior to determination if:

a. The application involves a development application:

i. with unresolved objections from three or more properties; or

ii. with continuing unresolved objections relating to view loss of the Harbour or scenic landmarks (i.e. the Heads, Opera House or Harbour Bridge); or

iii. with at least one objection from a property owner that shares a side boundary and there is non-compliance with the minimum side setback requirement of the DCP and/or the development would extend beyond the rear alignment of that same adjoining neighbour’s building.

b. The application relates to a review of determination pursuant to S.8.2(1)(a) or S.8.2(1)(b) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

c. The application relates to a modification of development consent under S.4.55(2) or S.4.56(1) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 where the terms of a. (i), (ii) and (iii) apply.

d. The General Manager, Director Environment and Planning or Manager Development Services considers the application should be brought before the Panel.

e. The application involves public land, Crown land where Mosman Council is the reserve trust manager, or an unmade road zoned RE1 or C2 under Mosman LEP2012, or land owned by a public authority as defined in the Local Government Act 1993 and the application is a determination of application for Development Consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Applications will be referred to the Mosman Local Planning Panel for determination if:

f. The application is a development application or a modification of development consent under S.4.55(2) or S.4.56(1) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and the applicant or land owner is the Council, a councillor, a staff member of Mosman Council who is involved in the Council’s functions under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, a member of parliament or a relative of any such a person, where the development is other than internal alterations and additions to any building that is not a heritage item, advertising signage, maintenance and restoration of a heritage item or a minor building structure/s projecting from the building facade over public land.

g. The application is a development application or a modification of development consent under S.4.55(2) or S.4.56(1) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and the application is the subject of 10 or more unique submissions by way of objection.

h. The application contravenes a development standard imposed by an environmental planning instrument by more than 10% or a non-numerical development standard.

i. The application is a development application that involves designated development, development to which State Environmental Planning Policy No 65 – Design Quality of Residential Apartment Development applies, demolition of a heritage item (either wholly or partially), new licenced premises (requiring a club licence, a hotel (general bar) licence or a on-premises licence for public entertainment), sex services premises, restricted premises or where the applicant has offered to enter into a planning agreement.

j. The application is a modification of development consent granted by the MLPP under S.4.55(2) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and the application (i) proposes amendments to a condition of development consent recommended in the council assessment report but which was amended by the panel, or (ii) proposes amendments to a condition of development consent that was not included in the council assessment report but which was added by the panel.

Further information regarding the Mosman Local Planning Panel, including the agenda and decisions can be found here.

Sydney North Planning Panel

If the capital investment value of a DA is over $30 million and/or it has regional significance it will be referred by Council to the Sydney North Planning Panel for determination. The NSW Planning Portal provides further information relating to the Sydney North Planning Panel..

Public notification of certain decisions and reasons for the decisions

Schedule 1 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 provides mandatory notification requirements relating to determinations of an application for development consent or modification of a development consent and requires that public notification be provided of:

a. the decision, and

b. the date of the decision, and

c. the reasons for the decision (having regard to any statutory requirements applying to the decision), and

d. how community views were taken into account in making the decision.

This information is provided on the DA Tracker in the form of the Notice of Determination (a & b) and Assessment Report (c & d).

Step 6 – DA approved. What happens next?

Once your DA is approved, there are some more steps you must take before you can start to build:

a. Obtain a Construction Certificate (CC)

You need a construction certificate before you can start building work.

A construction certificate confirms building plans comply with the National Construction Code (also known as the Building Code of Australia/BCA), are ‘consistent’ with the development consent and comply with relevant conditions of the development consent.

Private accredited certifiers and councils can issue construction certificates.

NSW Fair Trading provides a register of certifiers and information on what to check before appointing a certifier.

The NSW Planning Portal also provides information regarding Construction certificates here.

Before obtaining a construction certificate with either a private accredited certifier or council you will need to pay certain fees to council outlined in your development consent such as security deposits and contributions. Using the booking calendar on Council’s website an appointment can now be made to pay these fees with customer service staff. Customers booking an appointment will benefit from reduced waiting time and they will also receive an email reminder of all documents required for the appointment.

Where a condition of consent requires the creation of an easement, covenant or restriction on title, it is recommended that you seek legal support to prepare the documentation for Council to sign. A fee applies for the checking, approval and execution of the restriction on the use of land by Council and must accompany the restriction on the use of land when lodged with Council. Once submitted it usually takes one week for the documentation to be signed and to become available for collection. Where the terms differ from those provided by Council in the Development Consent, the process may take considerably longer as Council will need to have the proposed terms reviewed by its lawyers.

b. Appoint a Principal Certifier

The Principal Certifier must be appointed by the ‘person having the benefit of the development consent’ – this means you as the owner and not your builder. You will need to enter into an agreement with the Principal Certifier which outlines responsibilities that both you and the Principal Certifier are to uphold during the course of construction. The Principal Certifier will outline what inspections are required during the construction process, known as critical stage inspections.

The Principal Certifier can either be council or a private certifier and does not need to be the same certifier whom issued the construction certificate.

The Principal Certifier’s job is to undertake the required critical stage inspections, respond to Customer Requests received from Council/other public authorities or members of the public and to ensure the development is being constructed in accordance with the planning approval. Should the works be completed in accordance with the planning approval, all required critical stage inspections undertaken and the development is safe and fit to occupy then the Principal Certifier may issue you an Occupation Certificate.

c. Requirements before building work commences

Section 6.6 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act 1979) outlines the requirements to be completed before building work commences including requirement to notify council at least two days before work commences. Refer to S. 6.6 of the EPA Act 1979 for a full list of requirements.

Step 7 – Construction and the Principal Certifier

The Principal Certifier is required to undertake the critical stage inspections during the course of construction to ensure compliance with the relevant standards and the planning approval. The Principal Certifier may receive Customer Requests raising concern about progress of works. As the public authority, the Principal Certifier is required to respond and investigate the Customer Request to ensure works progress in accordance with the planning approval and to update the customer of the outcome of investigation. 

Should the Principal Certifier identify a non-compliance with the planning approval then the Principal Certifier is to issue a Written Directions Notice

A Written Directions Notice is comprised of two parts; Part A of a Written Directions Notice will be issued which will outline the non-compliance/s and what work is required to remedy the non-compliance/s. Should the non-compliance/s not be remedied within the timeframe set by the Principal Certifier then the Principal Certifier will issue Part B of the Written Directions Notice which will require Council’s Compliance Team to investigate and take enforcement action to remedy the non-compliance/s.

Step 8 – Completion of works

At completion of works you are required to lodge an application for an Occupation Certificate through the NSW Planning Portal. The development should not be occupied or used until an Occupation Certificate has been issued. Visit the NSW Planning Portal for further information about Occupation Certificates.

You may stage your development to seek an Occupation Certificate for part of the development to allow you to occupy and use the parts which have been completed satisfactorily.

The Occupation Certificate is issued to you by the Principal Certifier through the NSW Planning Portal, a copy of which will be received by Council to commence the process to release the Security Deposit should one be held by Council and all works relating to the relevant planning approval have been completed.

Last updated Thursday 7 December 2023
Last updated Thursday 7 December 2023