The DA Process
Preparing your DA can be easier than you think.
We realise that the building and planning process can be daunting, and that's why we've set up a dedicated team who are on hand to provide personalised help from early on in the planning process. Fill in our online help form and our team will be able to provide the right advice on the next steps.
There are three key steps in the process:
1. Plan your project
2. Complete the paperwork
3. Submit your application
Plan Your Project
Whether you’re ready with professionally developed plans at this stage or not, an idea of what you’re aiming to achieve is a perfect starting point.
In the planning phase, you’ll want to think about and collect details such as:
- The location of the work on your property / in your existing dwelling
- Its approximate measurements
- Your budget allocation or an estimate of the total value of your project, so we can give you an accurate quote for your application fee
You may also want to do some initial research, like checking our most commonly asked-about developments for more info, or visiting the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008. to get an indication of whether you’ll need a DA.
How to estimate the cost of your development
As part of your application, you will need to provide a realistic estimate of the cost of works so we can calculate your application fees.
Estimates should include the cost of materials, labour and demolition costs and should also include GST.
Estimates must be based on industry recognised prices. If you undervalue your proposal the figure may need to be adjusted and you may have to pay additional application fees.
You can provide a copy of a construction contract, a quote or an estimate from a quantity surveyor.
If you don’t have any of these, you can use an online calculator.
Zoning and Planning Rules
You must check the zoning of your property, and find out what types of development are allowed. It's important to know what development issues are considered before you spend time, effort and money preparing a development application.
Click here to go to our Planning Rules web page.
The "zoning" of the property will dictate the circumstances where dwelling/houses may be built on land.
A Section 10.7 planning certificate will also show you what other planning controls apply to your property. These controls need to be considered when preparing your development application because they guide the design of the building and other related issues.
Special Reports or Studies
Some development applications will require specific reports and studies to be carried out by qualified experts, this can be discussed at a pre lodgement meeting if required.
Take time to review our Conditions and considerations section to see if any of these apply to your development.
Designated and Integrated Development Applications
These are highly specialised and complicated applications.
In basic terms, a "Designated development" is one which is of wider state or national significance. "Integrated Development" is where third party referral to other Government departments is required for special reasons.
If your application is a Designated or Integrated Development, additional information and additional fees may be required. If you believe this may apply, you should have a preliminary assessment meeting with Council before lodging your application.
Meet With Us
The earlier you meet with us, the more valuable our input will be into making your DA a smooth experience.
Even if you don’t have professionally developed plans yet, it’s not too early to arrange an appointment to discuss what you have in mind so we can provide the tools and guidance that will help your project move forward.
A preliminary assessment is generally recommended for larger development proposals such as tall buildings, commercial, industrial and multi-lot subdivision applications.
The easiest and best way to proceed is to book a preliminary assessment with Council's Development Assessment Panel (DAP) on any Tuesday morning at the Forster Office. Council will require you to have draft plans of the development available in order to provide constructive advice on your proposal.
To arrange a preliminary assessment with DAP, please contact us. You will need to provide the property details when making this appointment.
If you are unable to attend a meeting with Council officers, you can fill in a preliminary assessment application form. A small fee is charged upon lodgement of a preliminary assessment application, because formal written advice is provided in response to the application.
Either at the meeting, or through follow-up, you’ll need to provide an estimate of the total value of your project, so we can give you an accurate quote for your application fee.
Complete the Paperwork
Here’s where we get down to the detail, but if you’ve had a Pre-Lodgement meeting you should be feeling confident about what you need to do to complete your Development Application form.
If you are unsure which paperwork is required, please complete our online planning and building enquiry form.
The full suite of documents and forms you'll need are available in our forms library, but make sure to start the process with our DA Lodgement Checklist which outlines every element you may need to include in your application, including:
Detailed project plans
The DA form, including owner’s consent
A BASIX certificate (if required)
A Statement of Environmental Effects
Supporting applications such as OSSM, Stormwater and Driveway
Other reports as required eg. Bushfire or Flood Assessments
You can also save time and money by applying for a Construction Certificate at the same time as preparing your DA.