Landscape Plans for Council

Having to supply the council with professionally drawn landscape plans is increasingly becoming a common practice throughout all states in Australia.
This approach is about more than just choosing the right plants. The design has to address drainage, overshadowing, structural safety and other requirements essential to development.

However, not all developments require you to submit a landscape plan. This page explains the main types of residential developments and the differences among them.

The most common types of development pathways when it comes to residential development are:

  • Exempt Development
  • Complying Development
  • Local Development or  Development Requiring Consent

Let’s discuss the main points concerning landscaping for each of them:

Exempt Development and Landscaping

In NSW, you can carry out minor developments with only a small environmental impact without the need for development consent. 

Exempt Developments typically includes the construction of decks, patios, pergolas, barbecues, garden sheds, cubby houses, carports, paving, paths, water features and similar structures.

You don’t have to request consent from the council and can even build these structures yourself.

However, it is important to note that this is only true as long as the development meets pre-determined standards. These are stated in either the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) Exempt and Complying Development Codes or are part of local exclusions under your council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

The structures will also need to meet the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and Australian Standards to ensure that they are safe. Other relevant legislation or council regulations might also apply.

If in doubt, it is best to discuss the construction of such features with a licensed structural landscape constructor like Gardenism.

Complying Development and Landscaping

Obtaining a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) is in some cases the best alternative to lodging for Development Approval (DA).

A council or an accredited certifier can grant CDC. The main benefit of this pathway is its fast turnaround. CDC is, in most cases, determined within ten days of lodgement.

This pathway is suitable for developments which meet predetermined standards listed in the SEPP Codes or your council’s LEP.

The types of development that fall under this category range from building fences, swimming pools, certain earthworks and granny flats, to one and two-story homes under certain conditions. 

Before you start to build, you will also have to obtain a Construction Certificate (CC).

Some councils will allow you to submit landscaping plans drawn by your architect, and only request for the plans to be drawn by a qualified landscape professional at a later stage to obtain the Construction Certificate. In our opinion, this is a rather poor practice, as the potential for making design decisions reduces greatly once your initial designs are approved. This means that the value a qualified landscape designer can add to your project reduces too. If the plans are done right, you can use them equally for lodging with the council as for the Construction Certification without any need to make changes. On the other hand, if amendments are requested for the certification phase, they often resemble compromises and could add to the final construction cost.

We recommend that you involve a landscape designer early in your project. Gardenism can prepare the relevant landscaping plans and advise you on lodgement of CDC and CC with your council.

Local Development / Development Requiring Consent

When people say that they need a Development Approval (DA), they are commonly referring to this pathway. 

This is a merit-based assessment of your proposed development. Each council has a unique set of Development Control Plans (DCPs), which cover the guidelines they want you to follow. However, since this might not always be possible, the local council will assess every application on its merit. It takes a lot of time and resources, so we advise you to involve a professional landscape designer early in the process.

The landscape plan accompanying your development approval (DA) will usually address a range of issues such as private open space, floor space ratio, permeable surfaces ratio, and other concerns.

Similar to the Complying Development, even here you would need a Construction Certificate (CC) before you can start to build.

To learn more about the various development pathways, follow this link to the NSW Planning portal.

Gardenism can prepare the relevant landscape plans for your submission to your council!

Quality, Fast Turnaround, High Approval Rates
Talk to us today to see how can we help you with your Planning and Development needs!

Member of the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers (AILDM)

Elizabeth Bay, NSW 2011

(by appointment)

ABN: 89579468404
Licence #: 339210C