Exemption declarations

What is an exemption declaration?

An exemption declaration is a type of approval that can be issued by the planning and land authority (the authority) for single residential dwellings that are compliant with all the rules of the Territory Plan, except for one or more minor departures, such as a building setback.

Exemption declarations can save time and cost associated with getting a development approval when a minor departure is unlikely to have an adverse impact on anyone but the owner of that house.

Section 1.100A and 1.100AB of the Planning and Development Regulation 2008 allow the authority to declare that a single dwelling, or an alteration to a single dwelling (such as a home extension), is exempt from requiring development approval even if it departs from a rule. In order to do this, the authority must be satisfied that:

  • the non compliance is minor
  • the non compliance will not adversely affect anyone other than the applicant
  • the non compliance will not increase the environmental impact of the dwelling or alteration more than minimally.

Exemption declarations are assessed on their merit on a case by case basis. An exemption declaration decision is final and cannot be appealed. If you are an applicant for an exemption declaration that has been refused, you need to lodge a Development Application to seek approval for the departure.

What sort of departures can I apply for under an exemption declaration?

You can apply for an exemption declaration if your development has minor departures from the rules of the Single Dwelling Housing Development Code or precinct map and code for your suburb.

The departure from a rule can only relate to:

  • front, side or rear setback requirements
  • building or solar envelope
  • dimensions of minimum private open space requirements.

What cannot be considered through an exemption declaration?

Some types of departures from rules cannot be considered or approved through an exemption declaration, these include:

  • a departure from the amount of open space required. There are rules about the location of private open space (for example, relocation from the north side of a building to the south side) and the private open space area which is percentage of the block, rather than a dimension.
  • a block that is listed on the ACT Heritage Register, unless the requirements for exemptions for heritage blocks are met.
  • a departure from a mandatory rule of the Territory Plan.

Some developments may be exempt under Schedule 1 of the Planning and Development Regulation 2008, such as retaining walls that are under 400mm high in front of a house. The authority cannot consider departures to these exemptions under the exemption declaration process.

What do I need to lodge an exemption declaration application?

Your application for an exemption declaration must include:

  • an application form and letter of authorisation signed by the lessee/s (owners) of the land and the applicant
  • plans that clearly show the distance and all dimensions for the departures (examples at figures 1 and 2).

To reduce delays, please provide all required documentation when submitting your application. Lodge your application online.

Note: If you are submitting an application in relation to a departure from the sun angle building envelope, please support your application with shadow diagrams that clearly show the impact of the departure (example at Figure 3).

Figure 1: Example Elevation 1 for solar building envelope encroachment
Figure 1: Example Elevation 1 for solar building envelope encroachment

Figure 2: Example Elevation 2 for solar building envelope encroachment
Figure 2: Example Elevation 2 for solar building envelope encroachment

Figure 3: Example shadow diagram for solar envelope
Figure 3: Example shadow diagram for solar envelope


Before you lodge an exemption declaration application, we recommend you use the below checklist to ensure your application can be accepted and assessed without delay.

  • Complete application form and letter of authorisation signed by the lessee/s.
  • The application form clearly specifies the relevant rule you are seeking a departure from and the departure sought (including the dimensions).
  • Relevant plans clearly show the departure (including the dimensions). Highlighting the departure in colour can help in the assessment process.
  • A building certifier has been consulted to ensure all relevant departures have been included. This can save time and money by avoiding the need for multiple applications. It can also prevent delays during the building approval phase.
  • A building certifier has confirmed that the proposal is rule compliant in all other respects, and that other statutory requirements have been met.
  • You may wish to submit supporting information that may better support your case for an exemption. This may include photographs of the site, shadow diagrams for a departure from the sun angle building envelope, a letter of support from affected neighbour/s or location plans.

Where can I get more information?

Phone the DA Gateway Team on 02 6205 2888, submit an online enquiry or visit us at 480 Northbourne Ave, Dickson ACT between 8:30am and 4:30pm, Monday to Friday.