Featured artist: Shannon Crees

Unauthorised building and development

Featured artist: Shannon Crees
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Unauthorised building and development

Any alleged unauthorised work associated with an active development site should be reported to the Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) appointed for the development, which may be a Private Certifier.

All other alleged unauthorised building work and uses should be reported to Council by calling (02) 9392 5000. Council's customer services staff will record the information and the caller will be provided with a complaint reference number. It is important that the caller provides their contact details as anonymous complaints may not be investigated.

Unauthorised building work takes many forms and can range from very minor technical breaches which cause little or no environmental harm, to blatant environmental law breaches for projects that would never receive development approval.

It is a criminal offence to breach environmental laws, and fines of up to $1.2 million and gaol sentences apply.

While Council is proactive in identifying unauthorised work, we rely on the community to make complaints and provide evidence to assist us in taking enforcement action. 

Enforcement action, if necessary, may include:

  • Notices and Orders requiring the offender to do, or refrain from doing something
  • Fines (Penalty Infringement Notices)
  • Prosecution
  • Injunctions to restrain or remedy serious breaches (Court Orders).

Council must exercise discretion when deciding how to deal with unauthorised work, taking into account the evidence, cost to the community of any action, circumstances of the individual case, public policy and legal precedent.

Council may decide to regularise the works through with a Development Application or Building Certificate and may choose to do nothing if the works is considered as minor with little impact on the development and surrounding properties.

One significant question Council will ask about unauthorised work is "If the proper application had been made, would approval have been granted?"