The difference between DA and CDC
A Development Application (DA) and Complying Development Certificate (CDC) differ in regard to planning controls, processes, and timeframe.
For starters, a CDC assessment is undertaken and determined by a Private Certifier, whereas a DA is assessed by your local council assessors. Each form of approval details out a set of planning controls and codes which your proposed development must abide by. The council assesses each application based on its merit. In saying this, DAs can be seen as more reasonable to your project if the proposal is deemed reasonable to the site constraints. With CDC, however, the planning controls are stringent to what is specified in the relevant State Environmental Planning Policy. At times, CDC may also not be permissible due to certain restrictions on your development. For instance, flood-prone land and heritage-listed properties must be assessed by the council. Once the 10.7 Planning Certificate has been obtained, you can be sure you are aware of special restrictions on your land which may affect your development. Your building designer will also require this document whilst completing due diligence for your land. In general, CDC is less likely to be compatible with sites with more complex conditions. Again, your building designer will be able to advise you on which route is most appropriate and suitable for you to get the best outcome for your home.
Legislative Measure of Codes
Each council specifies a different set of objectives and controls in accordance with the type of development being proposed (eg Residential Single Dwelling, Attached Dwellings, Multi-Residential). All controls are detailed in an extensive document called the ‘Development Control Plan’, found on your local council’s website. Each council’s objectives are essentially the over-arching values that the planning department believes should permeate the locality. These objectives determine the controls, and the stated values to abide by. For example, ‘65% of the site must be landscaped area’. In some instances, when the site presents conditions where adherence to specific controls is deemed unreasonable, the applicant can justify why they believe their non-compliant solution remains conducive to the council’s objectives. The basis of permissions to vary a control comes with the fact that the DCP is not a delegated legislation like the LEP or SEP. The formal justification to vary a control will be written in a key document which is submitted as part of the DA. The Statement of Environmental Effects describes the suitability of the proposal in relation to the council’s planning controls.
It should be noted that councils typically deem some controls to require compliance without exception. It is always favourable for the applicant to clarify the constraints of the proposal with the council when they are aware full compliance may not be viable. When working towards approval, Development Applications provide the option to either obtain Development Approval separately or in combination with the Construction Certificate.
Complying Development Certificate
All development controls when undertaking CDC are consistent among all councils in NSW. The document to be referenced when designing to compliance is the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development). This instrument sets out the controls for dwellings in relation to their lot size. Being a legally binding document, the process is void of the opportunity to vary any controls due to being interpreted strictly. The rule of thumb when undertaking CDC approval is that the proposed development is straightforward, and the site doesn’t present unusual complexities. When working towards approval, CDC always involves the equivalent of a combined Development Approval and Construction Certificate in one.
The merit-based assessment in Development Applications implicates the general time frames you would receive approval from the council. As an approximate guide, one can expect their DA to usually be determined anywhere between 21 and 90 days. The NSW Government estimates that 90% of housing approvals are determined within 40 days of lodgement.
From the date at which the DA is lodged, the application will be in pending lodgement. This is the preliminary stage of assessment when the council will flag any major concerns or required information prior to assessment. This process will typically take 2 – 3 weeks. Once the applicant has provided information accordingly, an official assessment of the DA will be initiated. At this point, you await to be issued a Request for Information (RFI) or Approval. Council typically provides 21 days for the RFI to be addressed by the applicant, however, if complications arise where external consultants cannot meet the deadline, the applicant is able to request an extension upon providing an update of what is being done to rectify the RFI. As expected, this process would extend the time before approval.
It has been observed that combined Development consent and Construction Certificate applications to the council have been approved within shorter time frames compared to Development consent only.
Complying Development Certificate
By eliminating the council’s engagement in this process, the process is fast-tracked compared to Development Applications. Prior to commencing assessment under CDC, your accredited Private Certifier will undertake pre-assessment, where like a DA, any significant non-compliances are advised of. Obtaining approval through CDC can take as little as 20 days. This form of approval is increasing in popularity due to its efficiency for clients who are urgent to begin construction. When undertaking CDC, the applicant should consider that it may take additional time to achieve compliance within the design stages as a result of the required strict adherence to codes.