Development applications - a quick guide

What is a development application?

If you are building or undertaking some types of renovation you may need to submit a development application (DA) to the Planning and Land Authority for approval.

Often people are assisted in this process by industry professionals such as architects, draftspersons and building certifiers.

DAs are lodged online using eDevelopment.

What developments require approval?

Some developments can be exempt from requiring a DA. New houses, additions and alterations to existing houses, and some smaller projects like pergolas, carports and fences can be exempt as long as they meet certain requirements.

How do I work out what I can do on my land?

All land in the ACT is zoned for different uses. Find out how your land is zoned using ACTmapi and which track to lodge your DA in.

Design and siting requirements for residences in the ACT are outlined in the Territory Plan's residential codes.

Applications for developments on unleased land (nature strips or verges in front of property) are managed by the Parks, Community and Land Volunteers. Phone Access Canberra on 13 22 81 for more information.

How are DAs assessed?

Before DAs are assessed they undergo a completeness check. Planning and Land Authority staff check whether all the necessary information has been provided in your application. A checklist is at the bottom of all DA forms to help you ensure you give us all the information we need to proceed with lodging and assessing your DA.

When the Planning and Land Authority has all the necessary information we advise you of the fee that needs to be paid to lodge your DA. Once lodged, your DA is assessed against the relevant code of the Territory Plan, objectives of the zone the land is in and the suitability of land for the development. The Planning and Land Authority also takes into consideration all representations made during notification, advice from other entities like ActewAGL, a plan of management for any public land and the likely impact of the development, including any environmental impact.

Do I need to consult with my neighbours about my DA?

If your development is located in an established area you are strongly encouraged to consult with your neighbours during the design stage to ensure the development proposal considers all of the issues that might arise. Even though neighbour consultation is not statutory it is encouraged and should occur before a DA is lodged with the Planning and Land Authority.

Public notification of development applications

All Merit track development applications need to be publicly notified. If your proposal requires minor notification, letters will be sent to the neighbours adjoining your property advising them of your application. If your proposal requires major notification, letters will be sent to the adjoining neighbours and a sign placed on the site.

Notification is carried out by the Planning and Land Authority after a DA has been lodged in the merit track or impact track.

What about entity referrals?

For some development applications you will be required to get approvals from other ACT agencies such as ActewAGL and the Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS).

How long does it take for the Planning and Land Authority to decide an application?

Processing time for an application depends on what track it is in and whether or not anyone comments during public notification of the DA.

The statutory timeframe for assessing code track applications is 20 working days from date of lodgement.

The statutory timeframe for merit and impact tracks is 30 working days from date of lodgement if no representations are received and 45 working days from date of lodgement when representations are received.

The DA is considered lodged once the relevant fees are paid.

What happens when a decision is made?

The Planning and Land Authority notifies the applicant of its decisions in writing. People who make a representation are also notified of the Planning and Land Authority’s decision on an application.

For more information on development applications please contact us.

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