ConsultationIs Council Approval Required for My Landscaping Design Project in the Sutherland Shire?
Council-Approval-Required-for-Landscaping-Design-sutherland

Is Council Approval Required for My Landscaping Design Project in the Sutherland Shire?

Have you ever heard of the 5 Ps… It’s true that proper planning prevents poor performance? Never have truer words been stated when it comes to renovating or creating your home garden landscaping plan. Working out the Sutherland Shire City Council approval procedure for any type of project may appear intimidating, but with the correct amount of research and planning, you’ll be well on your way to moving forwards with confidence.
According to recent Australian Bureau of Statistics statistics, approvals for new house builds and renovations have increased by 42% since June 2021, reaching an all-time high. More than 89,000 Australians have applied for subsidies through the government’s HomeBuilder initiative, resulting in many homeowners diving headfirst into the renovation process with no idea what to anticipate.

So, let’s get to the bottom of your burning questions… ‘Where do I begin?’, ‘What kind of development is my project?’, ‘Does my landscaping design require Sutherland Shire council approval?’

Let’s start with the good news: not all projects need to be approved by the Shire council. Minor works, such as creating a modest retaining wall (under 600mm) or constructing a deck under 25m2, are often excluded from the council’s eagle eyes. On the other hand, each Australian state has a different set of regulations and exceptions to the rules, such as heritage listed sites, conservation areas, or bush fire zones.

So, you may be wondering, why is any of this relevant to my landscaping project. Simply put, if you do not have the necessary approvals, you risk obtaining a notice from council to dismantle or demolish a structure that you have installed. Identifying which group of ‘approvals’ your remodeling comes into will guide your next steps, save you time, and most importantly, help you avoid costly mistakes.

What Exactly Is Exempt Development?

This is your ‘entry-level’ project and applies to minor works (such as garden edging or a small deck) and softscape installation (plants, soil, mulch and turf). This type of work can be conducted WITHOUT the need for the Sutherland council permission. You must ensure that what you intend to do is within your state’s formal planning requirements, therefore it’s best to verify your local environmental planning policy by visiting your local council’s website and looking under the ‘Development’ area or calling them.

Development that is exempt may include:

  • A compact deck (under 25m2)
  • Retaining walls less than 600mm in height
  • New plants or turf.

However it’s so important to ensure what you are planning is exempt – this is where we can help and advise you!

What Is the Meaning of a Complying Development Certificate (CDC)?  

Complying development is a statewide planning and construction process where we use a private certifier to asses and determine the development. There are set rules and guidelines which the proposed development must comply with to warrant a CDC. However the benefits are a far quicker turnaround!


A DA takes time – usually between 3 and 12 months, depending on the complexity of the application and the number of DAs that your council is dealing with at the time you submit your application. After your DA or CDC is accepted, you must apply for a Construction Certificate (CC). This ensures that the works are in accordance with the authorised DA and any specific requirements imposed on the DA (such as the protection of specific trees). Your local council or a Private Certifying Authority can issue you with a CC (PCA).

Which Approval Do I Require?  

The best approach to determine which approvals you require is to contact us at Exterior Architecture and book a consultation. We can then advise what development route we need to go down to achieve the desired outcome.

You can also contact your council via phone or pay them a visit in person. They are surprisingly helpful and can point you in the right path quickly.

Remember, it is YOUR job to obtain the necessary approvals, and it is not always as simple as you believe, so you should still consult with council.

Things can be complex so leave it to us to best advise.

For example when building a deck it could be the following;

  1. Could be “exempt” If the area is less than 25m2
  2. A CDC may be required; if the area is greater than 25m2,
  3. A DA may be required. if your home is heritage-listed, zoning area, in a bushfire-prone area and or if it is a certain height out of ground.
Best Advice from Exterior Architecture:

If in doubt, seek advice from a professional. You require clearance for more things than you realise. If you want to replace a failing 600mm high retaining wall on your boundary, you WILL NEED PERMISSION!!

Contact us today to start the process

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