The profession of town / urban planning is about the strategic planning and implementation of those plans for the economic use of land and to ensure the orderly development of cities and communities. It requires a multi-disciplinary approach with other professions such as architecture, urban design, transport, environment, building; just to name a few. In a nutshell, town planners ensure that land is developed in an orderly and economic manner in accordance with the Strategic Town Planning Policies.  

Find answers to common town planning questions at our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.


TP Consulting town planners & heritage consultant has over a decade of town /urban planning experience in NSW State Government, Sydney metropolitan local Councils as well as private town planning consulting. Our consulting town planner & heritage consultant have the expertise to provide you with all aspects of urban planning / town planning / heritage advice that are practical and achievable. See our PROJECTS for examples of recent town planning work.


Act or EP&A Act means the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979

BASIX means the Building Sustainability Index scheme to regulate the energy efficiency of residential buildings

Consent authority means the person responsible for deciding whether to grant development approval or not, usually a local council, but sometimes the Department/Minister or their delegate

DA means a development application

DCP means a development control plan

Determination means a formal decision (could be either approval or refusal) by a consent authority on a DA

Department means the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure

Development consent means approval for a proposed development, usually subject to conditions

EA means an Environmental Assessment, usually required for State Significant Developments

EIS means an Environmental Impact Statement, usually required for Designated Developments

EP&A Regulation means the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000

EPI means an environmental planning instrument, which includes LEPs and SEPPs, but not DCPs

FSR means Floor Space Ratio which is a primary town planning tool / control to limit how much floor area can be built on a land

HIS means Heritage Impact Statement, a specialist report required for all developments near or within a heritage item, or a or within a heritage conservation area.

IHAP means an Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel

JRPP means a NSW Joint Regional Planning Panel

LEC means the NSW Land and Environment Court

LEC Act means the NSW Land and Environment Court Act 1979

LEP means a Local Environmental Plan

OEH means the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

Minister means the NSW Minister for Planning and Infrastructure

PCA means Principal Certifying Authority, which could be either a local council or a private certifier

REF means Review of Environmental Factors

SEE means Statement of Environmental Effects, a specialist town planning report required for development applications

SEPP means a State Environmental Planning Policy

SSD means State significant development


Pre-Development Application Meeting - Sometimes the first step in the approval process, a pre-Development Application (pre-DA) meeting is an informal opportunity to meet with senior Council town planning staff to discuss your development proposal, prior to formal lodgement of the DA. The main benefit of a pre-Development Application is to identify any preliminary concerns the Council may have. 

Generally the pre-DA will help to avoid unnecessary delays in the approval process once the formal Development Application (DA) is lodged with the Council. Delays are not only costly in terms of time but also in the cost of getting consultants such as architects & engineers to redesign the proposal to satisfy the issues raised by Council. The pre-DA would also give a good indication whether a Development Application will likely be approved or not. 

Many Councils charge a fee for pre-Development Application meetings (fees vary and can be quite expensive), so we generally only recommend pre-DAs for large projects or proposals that are likely to be political and/or controversial. Please contact us to see if a pre-DA is the best way forward for your project.

Statement of Environmental Effects - A Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE or SoEE) is a town planning report prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and any relevant NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), Local Environmental Plans (LEP), Master Plans & Development Control Plans (DCP) and details the likely impacts of your proposed development on the environment. 

Councils requires a satisfactory Statement of Environmental Effects to be submitted with your Development Application, and sometimes Development Applications are rejected by Council counter staff due to unacceptable Statement of Environmental Effects. As a general rule the more complex the Development Application, the more detailed and thorough the SEE needs to be.

A comprehensive Statement of Environmental Effects will go a long way in getting a favourable decision for your Development Application from Council in the quickest possible time, and Councils strongly recommend that the Statement of Environmental Effects be prepared by a suitable qualified town planner / urban planner. Our urban planner will be able to help with your Development Application & Statement of Environmental Effects. Contact us now for town planning advice.

Clause 4.6 / SEPP 1 Objection - If you propose a development that does not comply with one or more “development standards” contained within an environmental planning instrument, your development application must be supported by a written submission that outlines why compliance with that development standard is unreasonable or unnecessary in the circumstances of your development.

Currently, the NSW planning system currently has two mechanisms that provide the ability to vary development standards contained within environmental planning instruments; Clause 4.6 of a relevant Council’s Standard Instrument Local Environment Plan (SI LEP), and/or Objections made under State Environment Planning Policy No 1 – Development Standards (SEPP1 Objection) if the local Council has not finalised a SI LEP.

Our town planning consultants are highly experienced and successful with submissions to Councils under Clause 4.6 and with SEPP 1 Objections.

Note: The term “development standards” is defined by the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Essentially “development standards” are development controls that are set out within environmental planning instruments. Environmental planning instruments are usually the relevant Council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP), but occasionally there could be “development standards” that are applicable to your development within a State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), or deemed SEPP.

Development Applications - Once the SEE has been prepared, and together with other relevant reports (e.g. Plan of Management, Heritage Impact Statement, SEPP 1 Objection etc.) and architectural plans, it forms a Development Application.  A Development Application (DA) is a formal application to carry out a proposed development. A Council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP) zones land in a number of zones e.g. residential, commercial, industrial, open space etc. The LEP zoning determines what can and can't be done on a particular property / land. Development can be exempt (no consent is required), permissible (allowed but consent is required) or prohibited in the zone (not allowed). Some examples of developments that may require a Development Application are:

      • Renovations or 'alterations or additions' to an existing building / structure
      • Construction of a new building / structures
      • Demolition, excavation & subdivision (torrens, strata, stratum etc.)
      • Signage
      • Change of use of an existing building e.g. from residential to commercial

There are also different types and categories of developments that have have different approval pathways. More details of these different categories / types of development in the 'CATEGORIES / TYPES OF DEVELOPMENTS' section below.

Public Notification / Public Consultation - Once Council receives a DA, and depending on the type / category of development, it may notify neighbouring properties of the DA and invite comments. The public notification / public consultation period is usually 14 days, but can be longer or shorter depending on the development category / type. If you have any concerns about a neighbouring development / property, and would like to make a valid objection to Council on town planning grounds so that Council will seriously consider your concerns, please contact our Sydney town planner for more advice.

Development Approval / Development Refusal - Council will make a decision on a DA by approval (subject to conditions) or refusal. If you have reason to suspect that a neighbouring development, which has been approved, but is in breach of the approval conditions, please contact our Sydney town planner for more advice.

If your DA has been refused, or Council has taken longer than the legal timeframe to make a decision on your DA (known as deemed-refusal in town planning), please contact our Sydney town planner for more assistance in getting your DA approved.


Exempt Development - Exempt Development is development that is minor and/or has minimal environmental impact and therefore does not require a Development Application. Exempt development can be found in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 or in your Councils LEP or DCP.

Development without Consent – This type of development  does not mean it is exempt and are for certain government / infrastructure projects which still requires self-assessment by the relevant government agency looking to carry out the project.

Complying Development - Complying Development is for development that complies with a set of rules and standards. These rules and standards are listed in either State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 or in your local Councils LEP or DCP. 

Local DevelopmentLocal Development is development that requires consent to be carried out under a LEP, and is the most common form of development.

Regional Development - Regional Development are determined by a region's Joint Regional Planning Panels (JRPP). An example of Regional Development are developments that exceed $20 million in Capital Investment Value (CIV).

Integrated DevelopmentIntegrated Development is development that requires an additional approval from other State government authorities (in addition to the development consent from Council) e.g. development that is located in a high bushfire zone and need consent from the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Designated Development - Designated Development are large, potentially hazardous, and offensive uses and are listed in Schedule 3 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000

State Significant Development - State Significant Development (SSD) are projects of genuine State Significance and have their own Assessment System, and are determined by the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure.

Still have town planning questions? Contact our urban planner for a FREE consultation.

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