Blue Mountains City Council




 

Developing Land FAQs


Buying or selling a property

 
Council issues a range of certificates that provide prospective purchasers with information about development restrictions, building issues and / or outstanding rates payable.
 

 

Need help with a planning or building matter?
Development enquiries – Katoomba Customer Service Centre
A Building Surveyor is available between 8.30am and 10.00am Monday to Friday to guide you in the development process and answer simple enquiries about building a home. Town Planning assistance is also available during business hours to provide advice to commercial, industrial, multi-residential and subdivision developments.
 
Written advice
Officers can meet you on site to discuss potential development rights and issues. Apply online for land use advice. (Fees apply)
 
Do I need Council approval?
 
Many types of home renovations and minor building projects don't need approval from a Council or accredited certifier. This is called exempt development. As long as the building project meets specific standards and land requirements (as defined in State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt & Complying Development Codes) or the Codes SEPP), no planning or building approval is needed.
 
The first step when planning the building project is to check whether your property is subject to any land-based exclusions and it meets the relevant development standards specified in the Codes SEPP. To be exempt development the project must comply 100% with all of the relevant development standards.
 
Exempt development cannot be carried out on a State heritage item listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR) or an interim heritage item under the Heritage Act 1977.
 
It is up to you to read the SEPP to find out the exemption requirements for the structure you have in mind.
 
  • If your proposed structure meets all of the exemption requirements, then it can be built without Council approval.
  • If it does not meet all of the exemption requirements, then it may satisfy the requirements for complying development. Alternatively you may need to apply to Council for approval of that structure.
 
However before undertaking some types of exempt development, you may need to obtain a separate approval or licence from Council or utility providers. For example, one of the following approvals may be required for certain exempt development types:
 
  • approval under section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993 is required for certain activities, including the placing of some structures in or over a public place.
  • the building of any kerb, crossover or driveway and other work over a public road or footway will require an approval from the Council or Roads and maritime Services under the Roads Act 1993. 
  • if you are removing or pruning a tree or other vegetation it may require approval under Council’s tree preservation policy.
 
For more information about exempt development visit the Department of Planning and Environment website.
 
 
What is the BAL on my property?
The Bushfire Attack Level, or BAL rating, is a measure of the different bushfire intensity levels that a home may experience in a bushfire. The BAL rating must be determined in accordance with the methodology outlined in Addendum Appendix 3 to the Rural Fire Service Publication Planning for Bushfire Protection. Click here for information on Rural Fire Service website.
 
The BAL rating is not pre-determined for your property and is based on a combination of:
 
  • The region where you live.
  • The vegetation type around your property.
  • The distance from your home to individual vegetation types.
  • Slope of the ground under the vegetation.
 
There are 6 bushfire attack levels in total, these are:
 
  • BAL Low
  • BAL 12.5
  • BAL 19
  • BAL 29
  • BAL 40
  • BAL Flame Zone
 
BAL ratings are different for each property and do not apply to towns or streets.
 
You can get an idea about what BAL might apply to your development by completing the Single Dwelling Application kit on the NSW Rural Fire Service website. Click here. Alternatively, you may engage Council or an accredited bushfire consultant to issue an indicative BAL Certificate for your development. Neither of these options will be provide a definitive BAL. The BAL is determined when a development application has been assessed and approved. This situation is not ideal, but it is the current situation.
 
The building requirements for each BAL are contained in Australian Standard AS 3959-2009. Unfortunately due to copyright, Council is not permitted to reproduce or provide extracts from the Standard.  Australian Standards may be accessed online at Council Libraries.
 
What do the colours on the bushfire-prone land map mean?
Bushfire prone land is land that is likely to be subject to bushfire attack. The Blue Mountains City Council Bushfire Prone Land Map shows all land considered at risk from bushfire. The map has been certified by the Rural Fire Service (RFS) in accordance with Section 146 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act. Click here to view maps.
 
The map identifies the vegetation types indicative of bushfire threat:
 
  • ‘Vegetation Category 1' is the most hazardous vegetation category, and generally includes forest, woodlands, heath and wetlands greater than 1 hectare in size. Category 1 vegetation is coloured orange on Council’s Bushfire Prone Land map.
  • 'Vegetation Category 2’ is vegetation that poses a lesser threat than category 1 land and generally includes grasslands, freshwater wetlands, rainforests, and pockets of category 1 vegetation less than 1 hectare in size. ‘Category 2’ vegetation is coloured yellow on Council’s Bushfire Prone Land map.
  • Buffer areas to hazardous vegetation. Land that directly adjoins bushland is also classified as Vegetation Buffer. These are the areas in which developments and people are most likely to be affected by a bushfire burning in the adjacent land. The buffer area extends for a distance of 100 metres from the vegetation category 1 areas and for a distance of 30 metres from the vegetation category 2 areas. The buffer is coloured red on Council’s Bushfire Prone Land map.
 
The colours on the map represent different vegetation types and do not directly relate to a particular BAL rating.
 
Additional requirements for development on bush fire prone land
Development applications on bush fire prone land must be accompanied by a Bush Fire Assessment Report demonstrating compliance with the aim and objectives of Planning for Bushfire Protection 2006 (published by the Rural Fire Service) and the specific objectives and performance criteria for the land use proposed. For most single dwellings the report can be done using the Single Dwelling Application Kit available from the NSW Rural Fire Service. Click here for NSW Rural Fire Service publications on their website.
 
 How do I lodge a Development Application (DA)?
You may lodge your application at Council’s Business & Information Centres at either Katoomba or Springwood offices or by mail. You must have all documentation required from the Plan & Document Guide for Single Dwellings and Associated Development and pay the applicable fees.
 
The application must be accompanied by:
 
  • A completed Land Use Application form, signed by all owners of the land;
  • Two (2) sets of plans and specifications for the building;
  • A Statement of Environmental Effects
  • One copy of any additional reports (see note below).
  • The applicable fees.
 
Depending on the zoning of the land, the nature of the development and the potential impacts it may be necessary to submit additional information with the application. Should you require further details regarding how to lodge an application or the information required, please see Council’s Guide to the Application Process.
 
How much does a development application cost?  
Development application fees are based on the estimated value of the works. The estimated value of the development must be based on industry recognised prices, including costs for materials and all labour for the design, construction and/or demolition (including GST). Additional fees are payable for integrated development or where the application requires the concurrence of another authority (e.g. Sydney Catchment Authority). When an application is lodged, the Council will check the value using the Building Cost Calculator on the website. You may use the calculator to estimate the value. Click here.
 
A development application may also be subject to other fees such as the Building Industry Long Service Levy (payable if your proposal involves building work with a value of more than $25,000), advertising/notification fee, and Land Title search fee. Please note that Council is an agent for Long Service Levy payments.
 
The Council also provides application fee quotes. Quotes on fees may be obtained over the telephone or at our Katoomba and Springwood offices.
 
How long does an application take to approve?
Council aims to assess and determine development applications as quickly as possible however the time is dependent on a number of factors such as the nature of the proposed development, the difficulty of the site and the accuracy/completeness of the documentation submitted with the application.
 
If your application is straightforward, the proposal complies with all relevant controls, the plans and written information are complete and you have signed the forms and paid all of your fees, then Council aims to determine the application within 40 days. If your application is incomplete or requires changes or negotiation it is likely to take longer than 40 days to approve. Applications which are integrated development or require concurrence from other authorities will also take longer (minimum 60 days).
 
What is a SEPP 1/Clause 4.6 Variation and how do I apply for one?
 
Development standards are provisions in an Environmental Planning Instrument (e.g. Local Environmental Plan, State Environmental Planning Policy) that control development to achieve an environmental planning objective. They are often numeric and include controls such as building heights, floor space ratios, building site cover etc. Some developments may achieve planning objectives despite not meeting the required development standards. The planning system provides flexibility to allow these objectives to still be met by varying development standards in exceptional cases.
 
Under the planning legislation, applicants for development consent can apply to vary the application of certain development standards to their proposal under State Environmental Planning Policy No. 1 – Development Standards (SEPP 1) for applications on land zoned under LEP 1991 or 2005, or Clause 4.6 of Blue Mountains LEP 2015 for applications on land zoned under LEP 2015. These policies allow some flexibility in the application of development standards if the variation is justified by the specific characteristics of the proposal.
 
A proforma application to Vary a Development standard under SEPP 1 or clause 4.6 may be downloaded on the ‘form’ page of the Council’s website. Click here to download.
 
 
What is a Statement of Environmental Effects?
A Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) is a short report or statement that identifies and explains the anticipated impacts of a proposed development on the environment, adjoining premises or the public.
 
The planning legislation requires all Development Applications to include a SEE.
 
The level of detail required will depend on the complexity of the proposed development and the site. Only a very brief statement is required for developments likely to have only minor impacts (e.g. internal alterations, minor residential work, etc (excluding heritage items). However a more comprehensive report may be required where the impacts are likely to be significant (e.g. environmentally sensitive site, development impacting on threatened species/sensitive vegetation communities, high traffic generating development, etc).
 
A pro-forma SEE for developments likely to have only a low or minor impact is available. Click here to download.
 
BASIX
What is BASIX?
BASIX is a Building Sustainability Index was introduced by the State Government in 2004 and sets prescribed targets relating to water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and thermal performance for homes in NSW. 
 
You need a BASIX Certificate if you are lodging a DA for a new home or any alteration and additions to an existing home that have an estimated value on $50,000 or more. You also need a BASIX Certificate for new swimming pools having a capacity of more than 40,000 litres.
 
How do I get a BASIX Certificate?
 A BASIX certificate is obtained after completing the sustainability assessment for your project using the online BASIX assessment tool. Usually a building professional does this. Once the design of your project has met the BASIX requirements and the fee paid, a certificate will be issued.
 
Where can I get more information?
You can more information from the BASIX website.
 
Forms  
 
There are two land use application forms available with targeted questions based on the type of development proposed:
 
  1. For single dwellings, additions and alterations to a single dwelling, granny flats and associated structures and buildings ancillary to a single dwelling, use the Land Use Application - Single dwellings, granny flats & associated development / buildings form. Click here.
  2. For commercial, industrial development, multi-residential and dual occupancy development and associated structures / buildings, and subdivisions use the Land Use Application - Commercial, industrial, multi-residential, dual occupancy and subdivision development form. Click here.
Refer to the Guide to the application process here.
 
It is encouraged to include a digital of plans and supporting documentation with the application. These must be identical to paper copies submitted. See below for further details on lodgement of digital documents. Refer to Guide to the Application Process for further information.
 
Application forms may be downloaded from Council's website, or are available from Council’s Business Information Centres. Please note that placement of logos, images or the like onto Council forms is not permitted, and will result in forms being returned to the applicant for re-submission. All sections of the form must be completed.
 
Forms associated with building certification and the principal certifying authority may be downloaded here.
 

 
Documents submitted in a digital format as part of the development application process:
  • Must be a Portable Document Format document, i.e. PDF Format
  • Must not be encrypted
  • Must not be password secured:
    • BMCC requires full PDF access to modify the document 
  •  Must be of a resolution suitable for printing
  • Must not contain attachments
  • Can be digitally signed

Requirement to disclose political donations or gifts

The EP&A Act imposes disclosure obligations on applicants who make a relevant planning application to a council and required to disclose the following reportable political donations and gifts (if any), made by any person with a financial interest in the application within the period commencing 2 years before the application is made and ending when the application is determined:

(a) all reportable political donations made to any local councillor of that council,

(b) all gifts made to any local councillor or employee of that council.

 

A reportable political donation made to a local councillor includes a reference to a donation made at the time the person was a candidate for election to the council.

The Environmental Planning & Assessment Act imposes disclosure obligations on persons who make written submissions objecting to or supporting a relevant planning application.

A disclosure is required if the person making the submission, or an associate of that person, has made a reportable political donation or gift to a local councillor during the previous 2 years before the submission is made and ending when the application is determined. In addition, disclosures are required where a gifts is made to an employee of this council.

The requirements for disclosure of political donations or gifts do not apply to applications for a complying development certificate (or modification of such application) or applications or requests made by a public authority on its own behalf or applications or requests that are excluded by regulations.

Click here for further information.

 

What are the dangers associated with asbestos in buildings?

Asbestos fibres were used widely in building materials before the mid-1980s. As a general rule, if your house was built before 1990, it is highly likely that it would have some asbestos containing materials (ACM’s).

 
You may be surprised at the various types of products that were made from bonded asbestos cement. ACMs can be found in many building materials used prior to that time including (but not limited to):

  • wall sheeting (e.g. “Fibro”) 
  • roof sheeting and capping 
  • guttering and downpipes 
  • gables, eaves/soffits 
  • vinyl sheet flooring 
  • carpet and tile underlays 
  • zelemite backing boards to the switchboards 
  • imitation brick cladding 
  • fencing 
  • carports and sheds 
  • waterproof membrane 
  • some window putty 
  • packing under beams 
  • concrete formwork

The Asbestos Awareness website contains images and resources showing what asbestos looks like as per the list above.


It is not possible to determine whether a material contains asbestos by simply looking at it. The only way to be sure is to get a sample of the material tested by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory but if one is not readily available, there are other laboratories that provide similar testing services.


Unless you take the required safety precautions and follow regulations, Don’t cut it! Don’t drill it! Don’t drop it! Don’t sand it! Don’t saw it! Don’t scrape it! Don’t scrub it! Don’t dismantle it! Don’t tip it! Don’t waterblast it! Don’t demolish it! And whatever you do… Don’t dump it!

For further information relating to asbestos please click here.

 

What is “Loose Fill Asbestos or ‘Mr Fluffy’ Insulation”?

Loose-fill asbestos is raw crushed asbestos, which in the 1960s and 70s was installed in the roof spaces of some NSW residential properties as ceiling insulation. A Canberra based company known as 'Mr Fluffy' installed this insulation in around 1,000 homes in the ACT.


The City of Blue Mountains local government area was not identified as an area where loose-fill asbestos was known to be installed. However it is understood that some companies, including ‘Mr Fluffy’ have also installed insulation in some homes in NSW.


For further information regarding loose fill asbestos insulation or ‘Mr Fluffy’ please see the NSW Fair Trading website.

What are the dangers associated with lead in buildings?

Historically, lead was widely used in many products, including certain building materials, because it was cheap and its properties enhanced certain products.

Lead paint is one of the greatest potential hazard facing renovators. Maintenance or renovation activity can disturb existing lead paint or dust in a house, or create new hazards.

Activities that can cause lead hazards in and around the home include:

  • preparation of old lead paint surfaces for new paint by dry-sanding or open-flame torches, which can create lead dust and fumes
  • demolition of or work on walls, floors, ceilings or fittings, which can disturb lead dust
  • replacement or maintenance of plumbing/pipes located in building cavities that contain lead-contaminated dust 
  • lead solder can create fumes and moving old lead-soldered pipes can break off solder and contaminate drinking water
  • moving carpets contaminated with lead dust – always wet carpet before removal.

For further information relating to lead around the home please see the following Fact Sheets available on the EPA website:

Taxation Obligations 
When undertaking property development and transactions you need to think about tax implications. To help you determine property related GST obligations, refer to the GST and Property Guide on the Australian Taxation Office website