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What is the online process of acquiring a complying development certificate? - 10 Aug, 2020

A complying development certificate (CDC) is issued for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial developments. Of course, ‘straight forward’ is determined via several factors, but generally they are less complex buildings than those that require development approval. A CDC can be approved more quickly than a Development Application (DA)  but is used for buildings or constructions larger than exempt development.

Generally, CDCs are issued for low-impact developments. However, it still ensures strict planning, adherence to the Building Codes of Australia (BCA) and environmental requirements. Some examples that would be considered as complying development:

  • Alterations and additions including industrial and commercial buildings

  • Construction of homes, granny flats and dual occupancies

  • Small retail developments

  • Construction of detached studios, garages or swimming pools

  • Fit-out of a food shop and other commercial buildings

  • Street awnings and business signs

  • Schools and educational facilities

  • Multi dwelling houses (terraces) and manor houses


How is a complying development certificate different from a DA?
CDC Provisions are non-discretionary and any application for CDC must meet these specific standards, otherwise the development can not proceed. This makes a CDC uniquely different to a DA, which is a merit-based assessment. This means that a consent authority has the delegation to apply their own discretion to the variation of a planning control when assessing a DA. This gives flexibility to outcomes but this can also lead to an inflexibility, as subjective matters can also be raised in a DA, such as the style of the building, bulk and scale and the materials used.

While a full DA is not needed to secure a CDC, a building professional (certifying authority) must ‘sign-off’. Similar to a DA, a CDC is also subject to conditions of approval to protect surrounding uses during the construction period.

How do I apply?

Application processes vary depending on where you are located in New South Wales. Some local government areas can apply online through the NSW Planning Portal.

You will need the following for your application:

  • Your nominated certifier

  • Architectural plans

  • Certificate of title

  • Site plan

  • Building specifications

  • Survey plan

  • Section 10.7 (2) and (5) Planning Certificate


If you are asked to provide further documentation to support your application, you can still upload online.
The planning portal will allow you to:

  • Submit your application

  • Upload any additional information requested by your council or private certifier

  • Track the progress of your application

  • Withdraw your application



If the online service is not available in your area, you will have to apply directly to your local council or search for a private certifier.

There is a slightly different process once you have submitted your application online. If you are fortunate to live in a government area that facilitates online applications then expect the following actions once you have submitted.

  •  You will  receive a confirmation email.

  • Your nominated certifier will receive a system-generated notifying him or her that your application has been successfully submitted for their assessment.

  • The nominated certifier will conduct a pre-assessment review and advise if additional information (plans, documents etc.) is required.

  • Your free quote will be issued.


Your certifier will then accept (or refuse) your application for assessment.

  • Your application will be lodged after which you will receive a system-generated email indicating this change in status.


Even though the acquisition of a CDC is streamlined, it is still complicated and lengthy, despite its recent online platform.  At ES Design, our knowledge and the expertise that we have gained over the years of applying for CDCs makes our team perfect for ensuring that you obtain your certificate. With flawless designs and completed packages, our industry professionals will ensure that you experience a seamless and well-coordinated process, whether you are applying online or at a local council or private certifier.

To find out more about our services, call us on (02) 9787 2000.